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China’s glass bridge gets tested with sledgehammer

Olivia Armstrong
Digital Reporter

Thursday, June 16, 2016, 2:10 PM - In July, the world’s highest and longest glass-bottom bridge is set to open to the public in Central China. A safety test of the new bridge was conducted, as a way to "ease" people’s fears of glass bridges.

The new transparent bridge located in Zhangjiajie Canyon national park in China's Hunan province – which was the inspiration for James Cameron’s movie, Avatar – spans two cliffs 430 metres in length, six metres in width and can withstand the weight of over 800 people, CTV reports. Each segment of the bridge is composed of three layers of ultra-strong glass. 

To prove the bridge is strong enough to hold hundreds of visitors at a time, BBC Click reporter, Dan Simmons, was invited to take a few swings at one of its panels with a sledgehammer. The force from the first swing caused the top layer of glass to shatter.

Despite the shattered layer of glass, the bridge’s president seemed to be reasonably confident. Simmons then hit the glass a second time, which caused more splintered glass. The first strike shattered the top layer of the glass panel, however the lower two layers stayed intact after a dozen blows. The bridge’s owners say in their own tests 25 people were able to jump on one panel, in which all three layers were cracked without it breaking through. 

Last October, tourists on a different glass walkway in China panicked after a panel smashed. A visitor had dropped a stainless steel mug, which caused the glass to shatter. The bridge had to be closed for repairs, just two weeks after its grand opening. 

The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge designed by Israeli architect, Haim Dotan, was set to open to visitors in May, however has been delayed till July due to excessive rain and construction.

For those seeking an additional thrill, the bridge will have a bungee platform and three bridge swings, one of which will have a length of 150 to 170 metres (492 to 558 feet), CNET reports.

Knowing that it passed the sledgehammer test, would you dare to walk this glass floor?

Here's a look at some thrilling glass floors across Canada:

CN Tower - Toronto, Ont.

At a height of 342m (1,122 ft) above Toronto, the CN Tower's glass floor is a unique experience for those thrill-seekers. The Glass Floor was the world's first when it opened on June 26, 1994.

Calgary Tower - Calgary, Alta.

The Calgary Tower offers a 360 degree view of the city and the Rocky Mountains. The glass floor offers a bird's-eye view of the city and streets from 155m above.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola - Whistler, B.C.

Peak 2 Peak is the longest and highest gondola lift in the world. The lift offers an amazing 360 experience, featuring a 436m view straight down through a glass floor.

Glacier Skywalk - Columbia Icefield, Alta.

Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park is an experience like no other, an exciting cliff-edge walk in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The glass-floored observation platform is 280m (918 ft) above spectacular glacier-formed valleys and waterfalls.


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