China's record-breaking Jiaozhou bridge 'is safe'

This photo taken Wednesday, June 29, 2011 released by China"s Xinhua news agency shows the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in Qingdao, east China"s Shandong Province. Engineer Shao Xinpeng said the problems affected only secondary features of the bridge

The chief engineer of the world's longest sea-bridge, in China, has denied claims that its construction was rushed to allow it to open on schedule.

Shao Xinpeng told state media that the Jiaozhou bridge, opened last Thursday, was safe and ready for traffic.

Chinese media reported finding incomplete crash-barriers, missing lighting and loose nuts on guard-rails.

Reports blamed workers' haste to finish the bridge in time for the Communist Party's 90th anniversary.

In a report earlier this week, a journalist from the state-run CCTV news channel unscrewed pieces of the guard-rails and showed that the lighting system was not working properly.

Construction workers told CCTV that it would take two months before finishing all of the projects related to the bridge.

But Mr Shao said the problems highlighted in the reports were not major.

"The status of secondary features does not affect the main project or the opening of the bridge," he told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

He added that the lighting system was only aesthetic.

The structure spans 42.4km (26.3 miles), connecting the eastern coastal city of Qingdao to the suburb of Huangdao, in Jiaozhou Bay.

State media say the bridge passed construction tests last Monday and it opened to traffic on Thursday.

It is 4km longer than the previous world record-holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the US state of Louisiana.

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