Mexico inaugurates world's highest cable-stayed bridge

A birds-eye view of the Baluarte Bridge in northern Mexico

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has inaugurated the world's highest cable-stayed bridge.

The 403m (1,321ft) tall Baluarte bridge spans a deep ravine in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains in the north.

It is part of a new highway crossing some of Mexico's most rugged terrain, from Mazatlan on the Pacific Coast to Durango in the interior.

The cable-stayed bridge is so tall that the Eiffel Tower would easily fit under its central span.

"This project will unite the people of northern Mexico as never before," President Calderon said at the inauguration ceremony.

Officials from the Guinness World of Records were on hand to present him with an award recognising the engineering feat.

'Devil's backbone'

The opening of the 1,124m (3,687ft) long bridge is part of celebrations to mark 200 years of Mexico's independence from Spain.

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It is expected to open to traffic later this year, and Mexican officials hope it will boost tourism and commerce in the region.

The Mazatlan-Durango highway replaces a notoriously dangerous winding road known as the "Devil's backbone" that crosses the jagged peaks of the Sierra Madre Occidental.

As well as Baluarte, there will be eight other bridges over 300m high, as well as more than 60 tunnels.

Officials say it will reduce the journey between Mazatlan and Durango by about six hours.

Eventually, it will form part of a modern highway linking the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

As the highest cable-stayed bridge in the world, it surpasses the famous Millau Viaduct in France.

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