200 Mil­lion Yuan Spent to Make Life Route for Chi­nese Stur­geon

Special Focus - - Spotlight -

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.

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