THE 21.4-km-long Incheon Bridge connecting Songdo International City and Incheon International Airport opened on October 19, 2009. As a core infrastructure facility of the Incheon FEZ, it is a sea expressway connecting the air logistics of Incheon International Airport and the marine logistics of Incheon Port. The bridge is the materialization of a policy to make the area a logistics hub of northeast Asia and is expected to boost additional development projects. Construction commenced in June 2005 with a budget of about 2.5 trillion won and two million people were involved every year.
The bridge is connected to Incheon International Airport Expressway, the 2nd Gyeongin Expressway, the 3rd Gyeongin Expressway (under construction), and the Seohaean Expressway, improving access from Songdo and southern Metropolitan areas to Yeongjong Island (56 minutes to 16 minutes). This is expected to cut logistics costs of 480 billion won every year while its environmental strength is to reduce the cost to clean the air, 3.9 billion won, tantamount to planting five million pine trees. According to an estimation by the Incheon Development Institute and the Ministry of Planning and Budget (currently, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance) at the beginning of the project, the bridge is expected to directly induce production worth 3.89 trillion won and 480,000 new jobs while its influence on the Incheon FEZ will be 312 trillion won worth of production and 4,840,000 jobs.
The bridge is unique in many ways. In terms of safety, it can resist a 7.0 magnitude earthquake and winds of 72m/s. Furthermore, it is a technological success of Korean construction, and is often described as the most difficult construction job to be completed in the shortest period of time. Indeed, it was selected one of the world’s 10 most remarkable construction projects by the UK’s Construction News in 2005. Euromoney included it in the 2005 Best Project Finance Award-Asia Pacific Transportation Infrastructure. The Engineering News Record listed Kim Su-hong, CEO of Incheon Bridge Co., Ltd. as one of the ‘25 Newsmakers in 2007’.
Incheon Co., Ltd. was established in December 1999 by the UK’s AMEC, Incheon Metropolitan City, and other financial investors. With construction completed, the company will manage the bridge for 30 years. Private investment in social overhead capitals tends to be led by construction companies, but this project is unique as it has been led by a foreign company in cooperation with the government and other financial investors, a first in Korea’s construction history. The services are likely to play a model role, too. The safety measures are backed by a digital system that monitors and reports problems to the Incheon Bridge Traffic Service Center to enable automatic checking of the location of an accident. In an accident, all first-aid measures will be provided in alliance with various public and private services. Furthermore, the Incheon Bridge Website provides information related to road traffic status, road images, weather, and flight departures and arrivals at Incheon Airport.
Constructed by Samsung Joint Venture consisting of major constructors, the bridge is divided into a cable-stayed bridge with towers, viaducts beginning from both Yeongjong Island and Songdo, and an approach bridge connecting the cable-stayed bridge and viaducts. The bridge part only is 18km long, the longest in Korea. The center is a cablestayed bridge (800m between pylons, the world’s 5th longest) and the towers are 238.5m, the height of the 63 Building in Yeouido, with large ships of 100,000 tons able to easily pass under. The two towers, as symbols of the bridge, are of the reverse Y type, which allows them to resist earthquakes and strong winds.
Bridges foster development by attracting more people and capital. The Incheon Bridge will be the first road to be seen by visitors to Korea and its intangible value will be no less than the estimated contribution to economic development.