Zheng Chen

  • Recent Development of Long-Span Arch Bridges in China

    Professor and Executive Vice Dean of the School of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Guangxi University, Nanning, Guangxi, China

    The Lupu Bridge in Shanghai, opened to traffic in 2003 with a 520m span, was the first world-record span arch bridge in China. The span record was superseded by the 552m-span, Chaotianmen Bridge in Chongqing in 2009. These two bridges are steel arch bridges.

    Concrete filled steel tube arch bridges and steel-frame reinforced concrete arch bridges have high load-carrying capacity, good durability, high stiffness, and are more economical. They are especially suitable for long-span bridges. The cantilever construction method using stay cables without any falsework support is well suited for this type of structures. This method, developed by Professor J.L. Zheng's team, was first successfully employed for the construction of the Sanlijiang Bridge in China in 1968. It has been used for many subsequent arch bridges and is now very popular in China.

    Concrete filled steel tube arch bridges are very popular in China too. To date, over 300 of these bridges have been built. Their performance is good and their development has been aided by advancements in design and construction methods such as integrated design and prefabricated construction methods, which accelerated steel truss assembly, and vacuum grouting with shrinkage compensated, high-strength concrete, which addressed concrete debonding inside the steel tubes. These new technologies have significantly advanced bridge construction and have been successfully applied to the construction of many long-span arch bridges in China, including the 575m-span, Pingnan Third Bridge in Guangxi, China, opened to traffic in 2020, and presently the world-record span for arch bridges.

    To build a steel-frame reinforced concrete arch bridge, a light steel-truss arch consisting of steel-tube members is built first. The concrete arch rib, usually a multi-cell box section, is poured using the steel-truss arch frame as a support. For example, this construction method was used to build the 420m-span, concrete arch bridge in Wanzhou, Chongqing. This bridge, a world record for concrete arch bridges, was opened to traffic in 1997. Now, this method is being used to build the 600m-span, Longtan Bridge in Tian E. When the bridge is opened to traffic in 2022, it will be a new world-record span for an arch bridge.

    This paper will discuss the development of these arch bridge technologies.