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Bangkok Bridges: Rama IX

Right through the heart of Bangkok, there is a huge river floating: the Chao Phraya river, or as the locals call it: Mae Nam Chao Phraya.

It’s like a dividing line between the east side and the west side of Bangkok – although most tourists never make it to the Western shores, with the exception of the Wat Arun temple. This is no surprise, as most things are going on East of the Chao Phraya river anyway.

But as you can imagine – there are quiet a few bridges connecting both sides together. This is the Rama IX bridge, built in dedication to the current reigning monarch, King Bhumipol, opened on his 60th birthday in 1987.

It was the first cable-stayed bridge in Thailand, and at the time of its construction it was the second longest in the world.

Here’s the bridge in numbers:

  • total length: 781 meters
  • width: 33 meters
  • height: 87 meters
  • road lanes: 6
  • opened: 5. December 1987
  • main span: 450 m
  • length of side spans: 61.20 m – 57.60 m – 46.80 m
  • largest cable diameter: 167 mm
  • deck depth: 4.000 m
  • deck width: 33.000 m

During the daytime, it looks rather plain, but if you float under it during a Bangkok dinner cruise in the nighttime, it looks impressive and majestic.

There are pretty much dinner cruises for every budget available, and when you have a couple of days to spend for your Bangkok sightseeing activities, it is well worth spending a relaxed night on one of the cruises.

Interestingly, there is even a Google sketchup model of the Rama IX bridge.

Peter Fraenkel & Partners did the feasibility study for this bridge. It was not an easy task – the minimum clearance above the highest water level should have been 41 meters. That’s why there are 1000m long approach viaducts on each side of the bridge.

And finally, more (rather dry) facts:

Concept designer: Hellmut Homberg
Assistant engineer: Paul Medland
Resident engineer: Ralph Anthony Freeman
Engineering: Hitachi Zosen Inc.     superstructure
Material supplier: BTS Drahtseile GmbH     wire rope

Construction materials used

  • cables: steel
  • piers: reinforced concrete
  • pylons: steel
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