AN AMAZING FACT: The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan has the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world. It was completed in 1998 and links the city of Kobe (on the mainland of Honshu) to Iwaya (on Awaji Island) by crossing the Akashi Strait. Before it was built, ferries carried people across the strait, which sometimes was lashed with bad weather. In 1955, two ferries sank, killing 168 people. The public outrage urged the government to build a suspension bridge. Construction began in 1988, and the bridge was opened for traffic in 1998.
The Pearl Bridge, as it has been nicknamed, has three spans. The center span is 6,532 feet long, with the other two measuring at 3,150 feet each, making the total length of the bridge 12,831 feet. To protect the bridge from damage, special girder systems were built to withstand winds of 178 mph and earthquakes measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale. It also has to stand against harsh sea currents. The two supporting towers rise to 928 feet high. Because of the changes in temperature, the bridge can actually “flex” by 7 feet!
Cables that hold the bridge up sink into 390,000 tons of concrete. Each cable is a whopping 44 inches in diameter and contains about 36,830 strands of wire each. There are 1,737 red, green, and blue lights mounted on the cables to illuminate the bridge; these can be changed with computer technology to many different patterns for different national or regional holidays. About 23,000 cars cross the Pearl Bridge every day.
Jesus once described the way to heaven as being narrow. Like the Pearl Bridge, it carries one over treacherous waters to the safety of God’s kingdom. But not many take this path. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14). Which bridge are you taking?
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. Deuteronomy 3:25