Work is complete on 516 Arouca, which at 516 metres long is now the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world*.
516 Arouca hangs 175 metres (574 ft) over the Paiva river in the eastern part of Arouca UNESCO Global Geopark, Portugal. It connects the escarpment of the Aguieiras Waterfall and the area of the Paiva Gorge, two of the 41 geosites of the Arouca Geopark. Close by are the Paiva Walkways (Passadiços do Paiva), the Aguieiras waterfall, Alvarenga Bridge, and Areinho and Vau river beaches.
As with the the Paiva Walkways, the Arouca municipality hopes the the new bridge, co-financed by European Funds, will draw visitors and further enhance the economic activity of this region, while at the same time helping to promote the preservation of Paiva river and safeguard of the biodiversity of the area.
The bridge is designed as a hybrid between a Tibet-style footbridge with a sagging deck, and a traditional suspension bridge with support towers. For those of a nervous disposition, the steel deck is a transparent mesh.
The designers, Itecons, have produced a video featuring the construction… by civil engineers with nerves of steel and absolutely no fear of heights!
The Arouca municipality is planning a ‘soft’ opening at the end of this month (October 2020), and says there will be a fee, as yet not fixed, to cross it.
* The previous title-holder is the 494-metre Charles Kuonen bridge in Switzerland.
I’ve had an anonymous email from somebody claiming that Arouca516 is not the world’s longest suspension footbridge. That there is a bridge in Nepal connecting Kusma of Parbat to Baglung, which is 567 metres long.
(I get the impression the email has been sent to every publication that refers to Arouca516 as the ‘World’s Longest’)
I can find no such bridge. However, Baglung is known as the ‘District of Suspension Bridges’ having four whoppers ranging from 344m to 490m! And the complainant does make a good point about the purpose of the bridges. Arouca516 has no purpose other than as a tourism experience; it doesn’t go anywhere. Whereas Nepal’s footbridges all serve a vital role connecting communities.