Completed in June 2007, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge did not open until May 2008 after a year of vigorous testing and was an indication of China's growing economy. Preparations for the construction started back in 1994.
The Hangzhou Bay, a gulf in the East China Sea. The Qiantang River Tide has fast tides and very large waves, considered to be one of China's natural wonders. 700 experts around the world got together to plan around the problem areas which includes the threat of Typhoons. Another threat to the bridge was that it lies within an earthquake zone which sees quakes up to Richter 7.
Before the construction could begin studies into the soil showed a large number of gas pockets containing Methane gas which had to be siphoned off first. Cranes on floating barges were used but due to the strong currents this made accuracy an issue so a network of GPS systems were set up on the bridge.
In its first year of operation the 'S' shaped bridge carried 50,000 vehicles per day.
Near the middle of the bridge there is a raised 'island' upon which there is a huge rest area complete with shops, an exhibition centre, parking, a restaurant, a hotel and a 145.6m (484ft) high observation tower which is a huge tourist attraction. The island complex is called the 'Land between Sea and the Sky'.
The complex is a 10,000m2 (110,000ft2) platform built on raised piers to avoid obstructing the current. On 23rd March 2010 the complex was slightly damaged in fire but opened to tourists on 19th December 2010.