The Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge (in Japanese: 明石海峡大橋 Akashi Kaikyō Ō-hashi), which is also known as the Pearl Bridge, has the longest suspended span of 1991 metres and is 3911 metres long.  It links the two Japanese cities of Kobe to Iwaya across the Akashi Strait.

Suspension bridges make use of suspension cables, which are attached to vertical pillars, and the deck (or whatever is bearing the load,) hangs from the suspension cables.  Suspension bridges were first used in Tibet and Bhutan.  The suspension cables are anchored at either end of the bridge.  As weight (for example a car,) moves onto the bridge, the weight is transformed to tension force (the pulling of an object in two directions,) on the suspension cables.

The deck is further supported by regular pillars (which separate the different spans of the bridge) which attach the suspension bridge to the ground (although if the bridge is short enough these are not needed).  These serve to alleviate some of the tension on the suspension cables.

The Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge has three spans (three different suspended sections).  The central one is 1991 metres long.  The two supporting pillars were originally 1990 metres apart, but drifted a further metre following the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995.

It cost 500 billion yen (53.3 billion rand) to build.  This is being reclaimed by charging motorists a toll of 2300 yen (R245).  Approximately 23 000 motorists use the bridge a day.

The total cost is estimated at 500 billion yen, and is expected to be repaid by charging drivers a toll to cross the bridge. The toll is 2,300 yen and the bridge is used by approximately 23,000 cars per day.

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