John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Russian kids have fun climbing the Bridge to Russky Island, world-record holder for Highest Pylons Ever.
Hey Tommy, you want to come over and play Xbox today? Nah, I'm busy, gotta climb this crazy-high bridge and dangle off the railing like a deranged squirrel. Next time!
These Russian kids forged a memory of a lifetime recently by taking to the heights of the Bridge to Russky Island, a yet-to-be-opened cable span stretching from the city of Vladivostok to (dur) Russky Island. Actually, they climbed a crane next to the huge structure, so they were higher than the bridge's montane pylons, which at about 1,050 feet are the tallest of their kind in existence. The central span is also a record-setter at 3,622 feet, the longest span ever for a cable-stayed bridge and a complete win over the second-place contestant, China's Sutong Yangtze River Bridge.
While you and I might cling to the cold iron skeleton of the crane like a maternally deprived rhesus monkey, these kids ham it up at their ear-freezing altitude, digressing from a central walkway to hang one-handed over the railing. (At several points you'll want to yell: Stop giving high-fives, idiots!) The possibility of them plunging into the Eastern Bosphorus, where they'd be smashed to bosons on the water's surface, makes this amateur footage a bit of a cliff hanger; there is no ending showing their safe return, but they probably made it down OK.
While it's no Siduhe River Bridge, the highest span on the face of earth, the Russky is a mighty and imposing bridge. The Russians plan to open it in time for the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which is taking place partly on the island. After the diplomats leave, ordinary Russkies will be able to use the bridge to transit back and forth to the mainland section of Vladivostok, an urban center of about 592,000 residents near the border of China.
Aleksey Baranov, who is helping lead the construction work, describes his pride in the technologies that went into raising this titan:
They include the drilling of ultradeep boreholes from the water in the eastern Bosphorus Strait, the use of high-grade concrete for pylon erection, and installation of the main stiffening girder paired panels from the water. Implementation of this unique project demanded enormous efforts, emotional contribution and expertise of all of us. I dare say, on behalf of all bridge builders, that we are happy because not so often, once in the lifetime really, one could be honored to be able to participate in the building of such bridge.
See how much of this "unique" bridge you can take before losing your stomach. I made it to 1:12 in the above video. For more on how this bridge was built, try beginning with a lovely and extensive photo essay on this non-English page.