Earlier today, President Felipe Calderón inaugurated the Puente Balarde, the world’s tallest cable-stayed bridge.
The bridge is 1.124 km long and wide enough for 4 lanes of traffic. Its central span extends 520 meters. At its highest point, it is a gravity-defying 403 metres (1322 feet) above the River Baluarte from which it takes its name. The bridge’s largest supporting pillar is 153 meters high, with a base measuring 18 meters by 30 meters.
Construction, by Mexican firm TRADECO, has required 103,000 tons of cement and almost 17,000 tons of steel. The bridge joins the states of Durango and Sinaloa and removes the need for drivers to negotiate a very dangerous stretch of highway known as the Devil’s Backbone.
It is the centerpiece of a new highway between Durango and the Pacific coast resort of Mazatlán. The 312 km drive between the two cities, which took about five hours prior to the completion of the bridge, will now be dramatically shortened.
“This project will unite the people of northern Mexico as never before,” President Calderón said at the inauguration ceremony. Accordoing to the BBC, officials from the Guinness World of Records were on hand to present him with an award recognising the engineering feat. The previous record holder was the elegant Millau Viaduct in France.
Even though the bridge has been inaugurated, the new Durango-Mazatlán highway is still many months from completion.
Update: New Durango-Mazatlán highway officially open(Oct 2013)
- The Durango-Mazatlán highway in Mexico should open in 2012
- New highway in Mexico joins Durango and Mazatlán
- The likely economic impact of the new Mazatlán to Durango highway in Mexico