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antics are to blame, but there’s only one Inca rope bridge remaining in the world—and it has to be rebuilt every year.Thousands of Quehue descendants gather near Cusco annually, as they have for more than 500 years, to weave plants from grass into an almost 100-foot crossing over the Apurímac River on the ancient Qhapaq Ñan (Main Andean Road).Though it’s more common on smaller bridges, Japan opted for a bridge made of a continuous series of trusses to connect the island of Ikitsuki—known for its stunning cliffs—to Hirado near Nagasaki in southern Japan.Built in 1991, the picturesque baby-blue bridge crosses the windy Korea Strait and provides regular access to what had once been a remote enclave of Christians and whalers.If you ever find yourself in Hunan, China, rent a car and drive the Jishou-Chadong Expressway: 18 tunnels under the Wuling mountains that culminate at the Aizhai Bridge, a gut-churning 1,150-foot-high suspension bridge over the Dehang Canyon.It’s a man-made wonder, the world’s highest (and maybe even scariest) tunnel-to-tunnel bridge—and yet it ranks only 15th among the world’s longest suspension bridges. 1, you’d need to head to Kobe, Japan, and marvel at the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.
(At 1,053 feet they’re second only in height to the pylons of the Millau Viaduct.) The benefits of a cable-stayed bridge (especially its ease of installation) have made it the de rigueur design of the last decade, with starchitects pushing bridge design limits.
More than 100 years old and spanning the Lot river in southwestern France, the Pont de la Libération is made of brick and unreinforced concrete—technically very small stones and mortar. The bridges of Madison County have nothing on this 112-year-old National Historic Site of Canada, which became the world’s longest covered bridge only after two spans were destroyed by river ice in 1920, prompting replacement and a roof (covering helps prevent rot on the central wooden trusses).
If it’s anything like its distant cousin the Pont du Gard aqueduct, it will stand for hundreds more. Built as a private bridge by a coalition of residents desperately in need of a direct way across the Saint John River—3 cents for a pedestrian; 6 cents for a horse and wagon—it’s now a regional icon open to all, beloved enough to get its own Google Doodle.
For instance, China’s Jiashao Bridge may not trump Russky’s record-making central span (a third of its 10,200-foot total), but its total length is an incredible 37.28 miles. NYC’s High Line wasn’t the only converted railway to find new life as a public park.
Farther upstate along the Hudson River, a two-rail bridge connecting Poughkeepsie to Highland, NY was rechristened the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in 2009.