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The Goteik viaduct

Vocabulary test: find the words or phrases in the reading that are synonyms (=mean the same as) the ten words below (the first word has been underlined in the text for you)

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The Goteik viaduct (also known as Gohteik viaduct) is a railway trestle in Nawnghkio, western Shan State, Myanmar. The bridge is between the two towns of Pyin Oo Lwin, the summer capital of the former British colonial administrators of Burma, and Lashio, the principal town of northern Shan State. It is the highest bridge in Myanmar and when it was completed, the largest railway trestle in the world. It is located approximately 100 km northeast of Mandalay.

The bridge was constructed in 1899 by the Pennsylvania and Maryland Bridge Construction Company, and opened in 1900. The components were made by the Pennsylvania Steel Company and were shipped from the United States. The rail line was constructed to help expand the influence of the British Empire in the region. The construction project was overseen by Sir Arthur Rendel, engineer for the Burma Railway Company.

The viaduct measures 689 metres (2,260 ft) from end to end, and includes 15 towers which span 12 metres (39 ft), along with a double tower 24 metres (79 ft) long. The 15 towers support 10 deck truss spans of 37 metres (121 ft) along with six plate girder spans 18 metres (59 ft) long, and an approach span of 12 metres (39 ft). Many sources have put the height of the bridge at 250 metres (820 ft). That is supposedly a measurement to the river level as it flows underground through a tunnel at the point where it passes underneath the trestle. The true height of the bridge, as measured from the rail deck to the ground on the downstream side of the tallest tower, is 102 metres (335 ft). The cost of construction was £111,200.

Due to its technical and natural condition it is considered a masterpiece of world standard.

Nowadays, trains slow to a crawl when crossing the viaduct to avoid putting undue stress on the ageing superstructure. Despite some 1990s renovation work, the viaduct still creaks ominously as trains edge their way across.

Because the line from Mandalay to Lashio is considered to be of strategic value, a diversionary route to the valley floor, featuring spectacular horseshoe curves, was built in 1976-1978, to keep trains running even if the Goteik viaduct was sabotaged. Those tracks were still visible from the viaduct in 2013, but the diversionary line has been left to the tropical vegetation since 2002.

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