200 Million Yuan Spent to Make Life Route for Chinese Sturgeon
On July 18, 2016, Zhixi Yangtze River Bridge, the sixth bridge over the Yangtze River in Yichang, was officially opened to traffic.
There was a festive mood, with gongs and drums playing, Yuan Qinghua, chief engineer of the Housing and Construction Commission of Yichang City, gave a sigh of relief. He had been walking on eggshells ever since the bridge started construction.
The site of Zhixi Yangtze River Bridge happened to be the only all- year spawning ground for Chinese sturgeon on the Yangtze River. A spawning ground of this kind was naturally and rarely formed in the lower reaches of Gezhouba Dam. Therefore, preservation of this natural spawning ground is crucial to the reproduction and breeding of the Chinese sturgeon.
The original design of the bridge was a three- tower cable bridge with a pier in the middle, which proved to be the most economical choice, but the bridge piers would have inevitably hindered the migration route of the Chinese sturgeon in their spawning activities.
Then an alternative design was adopted to alter the threetower cable bridge into a twospan suspension bridge with a maximum span of 800 meters. However, this style of bridge construction could only ensure that it would not have a low water level during the dry season, while still affecting the life of sturgeons.
To solve this problem, the middle span had to be extended to 838 meters, which means at least an additional 200 million yuan was needed in investment. Yuan Qinghua and other experts decided to prioritize ecology and spend more money in order to protect the marine environment of the Chinese sturgeon.
Yuan Qinghua was very cautious in his decisions and actions that followed. For instance, Chinese sturgeons are nocturnal, so in order not to disturb them while maintaining the night traffic, Yuan Qinghua and other experts chose lowvoltage and energy- conserving light bulbs to achieve soft irradiation, which prevented direct light or reflections of parapet lights on the river surface. As a result, the bridge was illuminated while the water area under bridge was still dark.
To everyone’s delight, at the end of the year when the bridge was completed and open to traffic, researchers detected traces of Chinese sturgeon spawning in the core waters of the protected area under the bridge. Yuan Qinghua was enormously relieved by this news. The story of a bridge giving way to Chinese sturgeon also became the warmest memory of the city.