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Gu Zhao overwater highway: China’s impressive ‘River Highway’ that lets motorists drive through the middle of a river

2 min read

We are in a mountainous river valley in China’s Hubei province, home to one of the Asian country’s most impressive pieces of infrastructure: a highway bridge that literally runs through the middle of a river.
And It’s one of the world’s most scenic drives.

The road, officially known as Gu Zhao overwater highway, is 10.86 kilometers (6.74 miles) long and links Xingshang County and Zhaojun Bridge in Hubei province, near the G42, a high-speed route that connects Shanghai in eastern China to Chengdu in south west China.
In order to avoid cutting through the woods, about 4.4 kilometers of the new highway was constructed above a river running through picturesque mountains. The section above the river comprises Xiangxihe Bridge and Gufuhe Bridge, 4.4 kilometers in total of the two.

Built in the middle of a river valley, works for the road began in 2013 and the road, widely described as an infrastructural wonder, opened to traffic in 2015.
Either way China’s ‘river highway’ doesn’t make much sense at first glance.
Why have a massive bridge built in the middle of the Xiangxi River, when you could just have it run alongside it…on land?
Actually there was already a road running along the river, which meant it could obviously be done, so why not build also the highway that way?
Apparently, Chinese engineers decided that a suspended highway running along the middle of the river was not only cheaper to build, but also more efficient.
Obviously, building a 4.4-kilometer suspended road that follows the curves of the Xiangxi River wasn’t exactly a cheap undertaking, but it was it seems better than the alternative.
In fact, the 440 million yuan (around $71 million) spent on this river highway are several times less than what a land highway in this valley would have cost.
Moreover, it shortens the time it takes to drive from Gufuzhen to the main highway from over an hour to just 20 minutes.

But, believe it or not, in the 8 years since its inauguration, China’s river highway has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with millions traveling to Hubei to experience driving through the middle of a river and also taking in the breathtaking sights.

Images from web – Google Research

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