Image: The Jiaozhou Bay bridge in China
Huang Jiexian  /  Imaginechina via AP
The Jiaozhou Bay bridge in China took more than four years to build. About 81 million cubic feet of concrete was reportedly used — enough to fill 3,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 6/30/2011 5:46:09 AM ET 2011-06-30T09:46:09

China opened the world's longest bridge over water on Thursday.

The Jiaozhou Bay bridge is 26.4 miles long, according to Guinness World Records. It links China's eastern port city of Qingdao to Huangdao island.

State-run CCTV said the 110-foot-wide bridge cost more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion). However, the Xinhua news agency put the cost at $2.3 billion and Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported its price tag totalled more than $8.8 billion.

CCTV said it passed construction appraisals on Monday. The bridge and an associated undersea tunnel opened to traffic on Thursday.

The bridge, which is supported by more than 5,000 pillars, took more than four years to build.

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According to the Guinness World Records, the previous longest bridge over water was the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana. The Chinese bridge is more than 2.5 miles longer.

"The earthquake- and typhoon-proof bridge ... is designed to withstand the impact of a 300,000-ton vessel," Guinness said.

Xinhua said the bridge would shorten the journey between Qingdao and Huangdao by about 18 miles, cutting travel time from 40 minutes to 20 minutes.

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According to the Telegraph, the bridge was expected to carry more than 30,000 cars a day.

It reported that at least 10,000 people worked in two teams around the clock on the span's construction.

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Some 450,000 tons of steel was used — enough for almost 65 Eiffel Towers — along with 81 million cubic feet of concrete, the Telegraph reported.

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"I'm so happy the bridge is finished," one commuter told sina.com, according to the Telegraph. "The old road between Qingdao and Huangdao is so crowded and now my journey will be much easier. We are a tourist city with beautiful beaches, so it is important we have good transport links."

However, this bridge is far short of the longest in the world. The Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge, which runs over land on the Beijing-Shanghai rail route, is 102 miles long, according to Guinness.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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