The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau to Zhuhai, south-east China is set to finally open this week, nine years after construction began.
The much anticipated Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will open to traffic on Wednesday 9am local time. Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend an opening ceremony on Tuesday in Zhuhai.
Construction started in 2009 on the massive crossing, which includes a snaking road bridge and underwater tunnel, linking Hong Kong’s Lantau island to the southern mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai and the gambling enclave of Macau, across the waters of the Pearl River Estuary.
Stretching across 55 kilometres, it is 22 kilometres longer than the width of the English Channel from Dover in the United Kingdom to Calais in France.
The structure is the world’s longest sea crossing and the sixth longest bridge on earth. Officials expect the bridge to be in use for 120 years and say it will boost businesses by cutting travel time by 60 per cent.
More importantly, it is a key component in China’s plan for a Greater Bay Area covering 56,500 square kilometres across 11 cities in south China.
It consists of a 22.9 kilometre oversea bridge and a 6.7 kilometre undersea tunnel connected by two artificial islands.
Engineers used 400,000 tons of steel to create the record-breaking road includes – nearly five times the amount of metal in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Hong Kong’s Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan said travelling time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong International Airport would be shortened to about 45 minutes from four hours.
The total price tag for the project, which includes artificial islands, linked roads and new border-crossing facilities, is unclear but some estimates run to over 130 billion yuan (£14 billion), leading critics to slam it as a costly white elephant.
Seven workers have died and 129 have been injured since construction began. Most of them involved accidents where they slipped or fell from a high point.
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