Longest Span Across the Sea
With a length of 55 kilometers and a cost of over 100 billion yuan (about US$14.9 billion), the ongoing construction project of the Hong Kong-zhuhai-macao Bridge has been hailed by The Guardian as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World.” As a major infrastructure project connecting Hong Kong, Macao and Zhuhai, a city in Guangdong Province, it is key to the high-speed road network across the Pearl River Delta area around the Lingding Channel.
Construction of the longest steel bridge across the sea started in 2009 and is expected to be completed in December 2017. The Lingding Channel is an important route for marine transportation surrounded by a cluster of busy airports. A bridge across the water would pose a problem for air and maritime transportation in this area. So the team came up with the novel plan of a combination of bridge and underwater tunnel, an ideal but difficult way to solve the problem. According to the plan, parts of the project will go above the sea, and other parts below.
As designed, the bridge should have an anticipated lifespan of about 120 years. To meet this requirement, 420,000 tons of steel were used to make the girders. The strong bridge is designed to resist super typhoons and earthquakes of up to magnitude-8. When completed, the project is expected to reduce automobile travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai or Macao to approximately 40 minutes, down from 4.5 hours at present.
The construction team has overcome many problems, including the complexity of the seabed, harsh environment and the incredible length. The construction team headed by Lin Ming, general manager and chief engineer of the project, has forged ahead to solve emerging problems and make the mega bridge the highest quality the world has ever seen. Lin and his team held hundreds of meetings every year, many of which lasted all night. To save time, he often scheduled meetings during trips, sometimes even at the airport.
He is considered a brave and responsible leader. The underwater sections require workers to work as low as 50 meters below the Pearl River. Even the tiniest mistake could cause water to gush into the work site, leaving workers with nowhere to escape, so everyone was hesitant to start work. Lin solved this problem by sitting on a bench at the construction site. “The safety of the work site had been proved several times by experts,” he told the workers. “I’ll stay with you while you work down here.”
Because building subsea tunnels in open waters is so difficult, Lin set strict rules for construction. His requirements for the standards far exceeded domestic regulations. At any given time, he could usually be found at the construction site. Any problems he found were discussed and solved immediately. Furthermore, he showed consistent concern for his employees’ well-being. Lin is the only member of the team who has never taken holidays. He spends every weekend and festival at construction sites with workers who remain on duty.
The magnificent bridge, built with Chinese wisdom and bravery, will further promote the regional economy and make residents’ lives more convenient.
July 7, 2017: Both sides of the subsea tunnel of the Hong Kong-zhuhai-macao Bridge break through to meet.
June 2, 2016: The last steel tower of the Hong Kong-zhuhai-macao Bridge is installed. July 5, 2017: The eastern artificial island of the Hong Kong-zhuhai-macao Bridge project.