Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

If you’re looking for District Structures Maintenance Engineer Jim Jacobsen, chances are he’s out on a bridge somewhere in District One or District Seven – or Japan.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

In late October, Jacobsen had the rare opportunity to travel halfway across the globe to the “Land of the Rising Sun,” visiting the bridges of Tokyo, Kyoto and Kobe. He also had the privilege of representing FDOT while in Japan, providing a presentation on the overview of Florida’s bridges and sharing our techniques for preserving bridges in a salt water environment.

“The Japan trip was outstanding,” Jacobsen said. “I believe they really enjoyed the presentation and we had well over 500 people attend.”

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

In addition to the presentation, the trip included a cruise tour through downtown Tokyo to view the many different types of historic bridges crossing over the river and a visit to the Onaruto suspension bridge over the Naturo Strait, famous for some of the world’s largest whirlpools that form under the bridge.

The highlight of the trip, though, was the tour of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (aka: Pearl Bridge). Completed in 1998, the six-lane bridge took 10 years to complete, cost $4.1B and sees a daily traffic volume of 23,000 cars. The tower of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is 928 feet tall and the main span is 6,532 feet (1.2 miles) long, which is a suspension bridge world record for both.

Transportation in Japan has to be very efficient, as the county is about the size of California with a population nearly half that of the United States (127 million).

“Much of the remaining land area is mountainous, so transportation officials face many challenges,” Jacobsen said.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Not only that, but due to the frequency of earthquakes in and around Japan, the majority of bridges throughout the country are made of steel as they are more resistant.

This once in a lifetime trip to talk and tour bridges is something Jacobsen will never forget.

“My hosts were extremely generous and the people very friendly. I will always have great memories of my visit.”