The world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge is expected to open in next month in central China. The glass walkway spans some 1,400 feet—over a quarter of a mile—across the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in one of the country’s most pristine national parks. Before opening day, though, bridge officials hope to reassure people about its safety. To prove the bridge is strong enough to hold hundreds of visitors at a time, they invited BBC Click’s Dan Simmons to visit the bridge, and take a few swings at one of its glass panels with a sledgehammer. Of course, it was all captured on video.
Residents and visitors to China have reason to be a little nervous about glass-bottomed bridges.
Last fall, another glass bridge in China cracked just two weeks after celebrating its grand opening. A visitor dropped a mug on the walkway, causing the glass to shatter and become unstable. The bridge had to be evacuated immediately and was closed for lengthy repairs.
The new bridge in Zhangjiajie is engineered to withstand a beating, though. Each segment of the bridge is composed of three layers of ultra-strong glass. It’s so strong, in fact, that it can survive a dozen or more swings of a giant sledgehammer. Simmons was tapped to perform the test on a duplicate pane of glass, the same kind used in the bridge itself, elevated on a platform midway across the bridge.
With cameras rolling and the bridge’s manager looking on with encouragement, Simmons’ first blow shattered the top layer of glass. Much like a fractured windshield, the glass fragments were held together within the frame. Simmons hit the glass again and again, putting all his weight behind each swing of the sledgehammer, but the bottom two layers of the glass showed little sign of damage, and the glass platform remained stable as Simmons and the bridge president stood on top of it.
Given the sledgehammer test results, would you feel safe walking across a quarter-mile bridge with nothing but a few layers of glass between you and the nearly 1,000-foot drop to the canyon floor?
Images via BBC (via screenshot)