Sat, Nov 07, 2015 - Page 5 News List

‘Glass’ suspension bridge set to open next month

LONGEST SUSPENSION BRIDGE:The new bridge in Pingtung County has features, such as local art and steel certified to remain rust-free for more than 150 years

By Chiu Chih-jou and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Members of the Rukai and Bunun ommunities on Thursday pose for pictures in traditional costume on the glass bridge in Pingtung’s Sandimen.

Photo provided by the Red Cross

Pictures of a 262m-long and 15-story high bridge in the Sandimen (三地門) area and Majia (瑪家) and Neipu (內埔) townships in Pingtung County went viral on the Internet recently as it was hailed as the nation’s longest suspension bridge.

Called the glass bridge because of its glass surface, it was built 30m downriver from the site of an old bridge, and it spans the Ailiao River (隘寮溪).

The north side is close to an ancient trail near Sandimen and the south side is adjacent to the Aboriginal Cultural Park staff dormitory, officials said.

Bridge designer Lee Chung-pin (李仲彬) said that the Sandimen suspension bridge is longer than the Fumei suspension bridge in Alishan (阿里山), which is 175m long.

The glass bridge was reportedly also the nation’s most expensive suspension bridge, with the maintenance catwalk alone costing NT$2 million (US$61,106).

The bridge has other unique aspects, such as anchoring below rocks on both sides and high-end construction materials, such as stainless steel that has been certified rust-resistant for about 150 years.

These features ensure the bridge is stable and does not move in the wind, Lee said.

Paiwan artist Sakuliu Pavavalung was invited by the county government to adorn the bridge with art that is representative of local Aborigines.

The bridge features a taro and a yam at both entrances, symbolic of the melding of Han and Aboriginal cultures.

The bridge itself features mosaics made by Beiyeh Elementary School and Timur Elementary School students, officials said.

The bridge has a maximum capacity of 100 people.

The county government has negotiated with the Aboriginal Cultural Park, the Neipu Agricultural-Industrial Vocational High School and the Water Resources Agency’s seventh river management office for about 700 parking spaces.

Pingtung County public transport is also to include the bridge on its routes.

With construction completed this month, the county government is set to open the bridge to the public next month, pending the results of safety inspections, the county government said, adding that to limit the flow of visitors on the bridge, a fee will be charged.

The Red Cross donated NT$53 million to help build the bridge, while the Executive Yuan’s Typhoon Morakot rebuilding association invested NT$9 million, primarily in the construction of roads and cultural adornments. The county government provided NT$3.5 million, and township offices also contributed to construction costs.

The county government said that it hoped the new bridge would serve the county as the old one did by attracting visitors to the region.

The old bridge had been a regional landmark since the Japanese colonial era and featured on postcards from the time, the county government said, adding that the new bridge could help connect tourist hotspots in northern Pingtung.

With a route that links Aboriginal communities to other regional sites in the area, such as St Mary’s Church in Wanjin Township (萬金), visitors can explore all that Pingtung has to offer, the county government said.

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