The Quindao Haiwan Bridge, an unusual branching structure crossing Jiaozhou Bay, was completed in January. It spans the mouth of the bay but branches off approximately 20 kilometers to the north to connect with Qingdao Liuting International Airport.

When the three legs of the bridge converge, the exit ramps lead to overpasses typical of highway interchanges, except this interchange is located in the middle of Jiaozhou Bay. The contractor, Shandong High Speed Group Co. Ltd., claims Quindao Haiwan is the first bridge with an interchange over water.

Although its total length of 41.6 km exceeds Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain Bridge by 3.2 km, the U.S. bridge, which is generally considered the world’s longest bridge, spans a greater distance than any single leg of the Chinese bridge.

The bridge consists of twin three-lane expressways, supported by 5,238 bored concrete piles. Three cable-stayed spans allow ships to pass. It was designed by the Shandong Gausu Group.

Shandong High Speed Group Co. Ltd. was not only the contractor on the project but financed it as well; through a subsidiary, the company will operate the bridge for the next 25 years. Built in less than four years for $8.6 billion, the bridge started construction in May 2007.

Qingdao, a major port and industrial center, is located in Shandong province, located 600 km southeast of Beijing.