A unique road bridge opened to traffic yesterday in the village of Shangxun, Hunan Province.
Its developers claim the bridge in the city of Leiyang is the world's first truck-safe bamboo bridge.
However, Yan Xiao, its chief architect and a professor at the University of Southern California, was keen to clarify a few details.
"Of course, it isn't traditional bamboo we're talking about. The superstructure was all made of modern bamboo, processed with grayish silver-colored waterproof materials that combat the effects of the sun and rain.
"With the majority of the structural elements prefabricated, the actual bridge was erected within a week, mostly by eight workers without any heavy construction equipment," he said.
The speed at which the bridge was erected certainly impressed 72-year-old villager Huang Xianrong.
"It was built within a month," he said. "I've never seen any bridge this good in my entire life."
While the bridge was designed to carry 8 tons, field tests have shown its actual capacity is about 90 tons, Xiao said.
The bridge was completed in late October and has a life expectancy of 20 years, he said.
Xiao said bamboo bridges cost just half as much as equivalent steel ones.
"They have a much shorter construction cycle than concrete bridges, and also cause less pollution," he said.
The bridge is the latest in a range of modern bamboo structures developed by Xiao and his team.
In 2006, they unveiled the world's first modern bamboo footbridge.
Xiao said the technology is expected to become widely used for pedestrian overpasses and rural bridges, which are now mostly built from steel and concrete.
Bamboo is an environmentally friendly and sustainable material in Hunan, he said.
Source: China Daily