Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge completed
Installation of the final 35-metric-ton piece of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge — an expansion joint— was completed on Tuesday, marking the start of the next phase of the gigantic bridge project.
Zhu Yongling, director of the bridge authority, made the announcement in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, on Tuesday after the installation was completed.
“This means construction of the 22.9-kilometer-long bridge, which is a major component of the project, has been completed,” Zhu told media.
Experts said the bridge, which is expected to open before the end of 2017 will play a significant role in enhancing economic ties between Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong.
Chen Guanghan, vice-dean of the Research Institute of the Development of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, said the bridge will help HongKong further expand its development space when it advances its cooperation with the vast western part of the Pearl River Delta region in Guangdong after traffic begins to flow.
“The western part of the delta region, which includes the prosperous cities of Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Yangjiang and Taishan, still has huge room for expansion and cooperation with Hong Kong,” Chen said on Tuesday.
“Meanwhile, Zhongshan, the hometown of Dr Sun Yatsen; and Jiangmen and Taishan, the hometowns of myriad overseas Chinese living around the world, have rich tourism resources for further development,” he said.
“The bridge will help accelerate the development of Hong Kong’s international airport and its ports and the development of Hong Kong’s Lantou Island area,” Chen said.
It is also expected to help HongKong’s airport and ports to attract more businesses, Chen said.
Chen urged Hong Kong to build more major shopping centers and malls on Lantou Island, with its rich tourism resources, tomeet the demand from the large number of mainland residents who are expected to visit Hong Kong after the bridge opens.
Song Haiyan, associate dean of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, predicted that the bridge will positively affect the economies of all three cities.
Song said he does not believe the bridge will necessarily bring a great surge in tourist traffic, but it will have a positive effect overall, presenting yet another option in addition to plane, train or ferry for travel between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Hong Kong lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok said the bridge will fortify Hong Kong airport’s pivotal role in the region, connecting the western Pearl River Delta and shortening the journey from Zhuhai to Hong Kong.
Lo said he is confident the bridge will be finished on time, noting that the most difficult part is now complete.
The 55-kilometer bridge includes a 6.7-kilometer underwater tunnel and a 22.9 kilometer bridge that passes over the sea, making it the longest cross-sea bridge in the world.
Construction of the Y-shaped bridge started in 2009 and will cost more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion). It is part of the country’s planned national highway network, linking the western and eastern banks of the Pearl River.
Once in operation, the bridge will help shorten the current four-hour drive from Hong Kong to Zhuhai to half an hour.
The service life of the bridge is expected to be more than 120 years.
Above: Workers celebrate the completion of major construction work on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge on Tuesday. ZHONG FAN / FOR CHINA DAILY Left: The bridge stretches 22.9 kilometers over the water.