6.16.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXV

Here's an excerpt from a New York Times article I just read, "China’s New Bridges: Rising High, but Buried in Debt":




“The amount of high bridge construction in China is just insane,” said Eric Sakowski, an American bridge enthusiast who runs a website on the world’s highest bridges. “China’s opening, say, 50 high bridges a year, and the whole of the rest of the world combined might be opening 10.”

Of the world’s 100 highest bridges, 81 are in China, including some unfinished ones, according to Mr. Sakowski’s data. (The Chishi Bridge ranks 162nd.)

China also has the world’s longest bridge, the 102-mile Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, a high-speed rail viaduct running parallel to the Yangtze River, and is nearing completion of the world’s longest sea bridge, a 14-mile cable-stay bridge skimming across the Pearl River Delta, part of a 22-mile bridge and tunnel crossing that connects Hong Kong and Macau with mainland China.

The country’s expressway growth has been compared to that of the United States in the 1950s, when the Interstate System of highways got underway, but China is building at a remarkable clip. In 2016 alone, China added 26,100 bridges on roads, including 363 “extra large” ones with an average length of about a mile, government figures show.

China also devotes a much higher share of its economy to building infrastructure than the West — about 9 percent versus about 2.5 percent in the United States and Western Europe, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

A primary motive is economic growth: Infrastructure spending surged as part of a huge stimulus program after the 2008 global financial crisis. Each bridge can cost billions and employ hundreds of workers for several years.

But the endless construction has also created a self-perpetuating gravy train, feeding corruption and distorting priorities.
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