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US Bridge Loses Main Claim to Fame

  • Ted Landphair

The Pontchartrain Causeway is long, mostly straight, and low. Lake Pontchartrain, beneath is, is actually not a lake but a brackish estuary, connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Pontchartrain Causeway is long, mostly straight, and low. Lake Pontchartrain, beneath is, is actually not a lake but a brackish estuary, connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks to China, Pontchartrain Causeway is no longer the world's longest bridge

Several years ago, the U.S. automobile-rental company Avis came up with an imaginative, if not exactly boastful, advertising slogan. “We’re Number Two!” in number of rentals, it went. “We Try Harder.”

The folks in southern Louisiana might want to dust that one off, because, just last month, its Pontchartrain Causeway - which had been the longest bridge in the world - lost that title to a brand-new bridge in China.

A causeway is a long road, often resting on pilings or a dirt embankment, over water or wetlands.

High above, you get an idea of what seems like the endless span of the Pontchartrain Causeway.

High above, you get an idea of what seems like the endless span of the Pontchartrain Causeway.

The two parallel spans of the Pontchartrain Causeway, supported by 9,500 concrete pilings, wind for 38 kilometers (24 miles) between the north and south shores of Lake Pontchartrain. That’s America’s second-largest inland body of saltwater behind Utah’s Great Salt Lake.

The Louisiana bridge brought what had been the remote “North Shore,” as it is called, into the Greater New Orleans community. It was only lightly damaged during Hurricane Katrina, the deadly storm that wiped out whole neighborhoods in New Orleans in 2005.

So the causeway was a key route used by rescue and recovery teams based on the North Shore as the city was slowly rebuilt.

US Bridge Loses Main Claim to Fame

US Bridge Loses Main Claim to Fame

Usurping the Pontchartrain Causeway’s title as the world’s longest bridge is a 42-kilometer (26-mile) bridge over Jiaozhou Bay in China’s eastern Shandong Province. It took four years to build.

Since the Chinese built just one span across that bay, the bridge requires only 5,000 pilings. So if the Pontchartrain causeway needs a calling card - admittedly not a very dramatic one - it can claim that when it comes to concrete pillars, it’s still number one.

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