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Heavy Lifting: Supporting the Longest Suspension Bridge in the World
We May Be Individually Weak, but Working Together... -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 31 mm — 1/160 sec, f/3.5, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
We May Be Individually Weak, but Working Together...

On our trip to Takamatsu this time last year for a concert, we drove across the Akashi Straights Bridge (明石海峡大橋), which, with a main span of almost 2km long, is the longest suspension bridge in the world. The whole bridge itself is 3,911 meters long.

A mile or so past the southern end is a big parking area with shops, a little park, and (of all things) a Ferris wheel (“the largest at a highway rest stop in Japan, if not the world”).

Scale -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/350 sec, f/3.2, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Scale

There's also a section of the main suspension cable on display...

Cable Cross Section of 36,830 Individual Strands with the 4km long bridge in the background -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/160 sec, f/5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Cable Cross Section of 36,830 Individual Strands
with the 4km long bridge in the background

Just looking at the steel wire that goes into making the big main cables involves some staggering numbers. This plate was affixed to the display...

stats on the “Akashi Kaikyou Big Bride Cable” -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
stats on the
“Akashi Kaikyou Big Bride Cable”

Each individual steel strand is 5.23mm in diameter (a bit more than a fifth of an inch), and there are 127 such strands in each of the 290 hexagon-shaped bundles that make up the cable. Grand total: 36,830 strands, with a diameter of 112cm (3.7 feet).

Assuming that the cutaway on display is one meter long, that puts the total length of its strands, if placed end on end, at almost 23 miles! In just that little cutaway display. It weighs over 27,000 pounds.

A pair of these cables span the entire length of the bridge, draped across two towers and anchored on either side. Each is 4,073 meters long, putting the end-to-end length of the individual strands at over 150,000km (93,211 miles). Each. Adding the strands from the two cables together will get you more than three quarters of the way to the moon.

Trivia: after a big earthquake hit this area in 1995, the two towers found themselves one meter further apart. Hence, the main span, which was supposed to have been 1,990 meters upon completion, ended up being 1,991 meters when construction was finally completed three years later.

Oh, and speaking of trivia, if you didn't guess it, this is the answer to yesterday's quiz.

Anyway, we took a ride in the Ferris wheel...

“Largest Highway-Rest-Stop Ferris Wheel in Japan” woo-hoo! -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
“Largest Highway-Rest-Stop Ferris Wheel in Japan”
woo-hoo!
Kids Play Area Down Below -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/60 sec, f/5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Kids Play Area Down Below
Concrete-Desert Rest Area -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/80 sec, f/5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Concrete-Desert Rest Area
Looking South a bit of spark in the sunset brightens up a dreary day -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/160 sec, f/4.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking South
a bit of spark in the sunset brightens up a dreary day
City of Akashi Lit Up By the Sunset behind the southern tower -- Awaji, Hyougo, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/500 sec, f/4.8, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
City of Akashi Lit Up By the Sunset
behind the southern tower

Comments so far....

Love the highway shot! Great colours.

— comment by Gustaf Erikson on December 9th, 2008 at 11:10pm JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Uncredible !
But did you notice that the cable is just a little rotate on himself… Just to make some meter more (I suppose) ?
And nice pictures like always on your blog.

— comment by Frédéric Klee on December 9th, 2008 at 11:28pm JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

The information plate is another good example of the way in which a loan word (ストランド)has lost its original meaning (‘strand’, a single wire making up a bundle) and become, as you correctly translate, ‘bundle’.

Lines like 「ストランドの素線数」 – literally ‘number of strands in the strand’ – always make me sigh.

— comment by Tony Nelson on December 10th, 2008 at 12:12am JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I wonder if the cables in the bridge itself are similarly colored, or if they colored these especially for the display.
(At first I thought that had to be Anthony’s hand in the photo!)

The colors are just painted on the end (you can see the paint peeling in the first shot), so I would guess that each 4km-long cable has no paint, save perhaps for the ends. —Jeffrey

— comment by Zachawry on December 10th, 2008 at 1:50pm JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Definitely an interesting bridge to drive over; the whirlpools in the straits below are good to watch too. I was quite surprised by the presence of the ferris wheel; having spent the previous day in Osaka, I came to the conclusion that the Japanese just love their ferris wheels, and no self-respecting city goes without one. Tokyo has more than one, of course…

— comment by David Keaveny on December 11th, 2008 at 6:21pm JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Hello Jeffrey’

Great photos! They bring back memories of my 1998 visit in the weeks prior to the Akashi Kaikyo’s grand opening.

I just want to alert you to a factual error.

The mainspan was 1990 meters and became 1991 meters.

You have it incorrectly at 1900 and 1901 – perhaps just a typo or transcription error.

Oops, just sloppiness on my part. Fixed. Thanks! —Jeffrey

— comment by Patrick on December 12th, 2008 at 6:05am JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffery,

Here’s another interesting fact… All the wires in both the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge’s main cables if laid end to end equals what light travels in one second. With 36,830 wires in each main cable think of it as that many round trips via the main cable from anchorage to anchorage and back.

— comment by Patrick on December 13th, 2008 at 5:47am JST (5 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

the longest suspension bridge in the world

Well, the longest between anchorages.
The Mackinac is more than twice as long, overall (shore to shore).
Still, it’s pretty impressive, and I like the display of the chunk of cable.

— comment by Krysta on September 5th, 2009 at 12:27am JST (4 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Actually Krysta, As impressive as the Mighty Mac is, it has nothing on the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. There’s a bridge just north of New Orleans crossing Lake Pontchartrain that is over five times longer “shore to shore” than the Mackinac Bridge. The Mackinac is more impressive because its mainspan is 3,800 feet from tower to tower and the three suspended spans are 7,400 feet combined. From engineering standpoints the longer the mainspan and / or suspended spans – the more impressive the bridge. Think of it as a diamond ring. The suspended parts are the diamond and the lead up to the diamond, is just the band. Some fingers are bigger than others, thus requiring various size bands. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge’s mainspan is 6,532 feet and its three suspended spans are 12,831 feet combined – bettering the Mighty Macs by 5,431 feet – or beating it by the proverbial mile! Adding length to each end of a bridge by way of many mundane smaller spans is just cookie cutter work. The Mighty Mac’s three suspended sections only bettered the previous record by 950 feet. Then the Akashi Kaikyo came along and bettered the Mighty Mac by over a mile! No comparison.

— comment by Patrick S. O'Donnell on September 30th, 2009 at 5:26am JST (4 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I have read about Akashi bridge since one year but I am surprised to see so many of good photos of the area around the bridge on your blog which I saw today for the 1st time. But i liked so much of info. also. Thanks a lot !!

— comment by C P Jain India on July 27th, 2011 at 2:46pm JST (3 years ago) comment permalink
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