China will open the world’s longest sea bridge to traffic from 24 October. The 55-kilometre-long bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao took six years of preparations and eight years to build.
Construction began on 15 December 2009 and is expected to slash travel time from Hongkong to mainland China from three hours to 30 minutes.
“The bridge is not just a mega transport infrastructure jointly built by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau,” Hong Kong’s secretary for transport and housing, Frank Chan Fan, said on Friday.
“The collaboration between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in terms of trade, finance, logistics and tourism will be strengthened. Hong Kong will assume a more proactive role in the development of the Greater Bay Area.”
However, private cars will only be able to use it after applying for a special permit.The crossing will mostly be used by private shuttle buses and freight vehicles. The bridge is not served by public transport.
Since its inception, it has been one of the most criticised initiatives in Hong Kong, where residents believe it is a poor use of taxpayer funds. Conservationists have blamed bridge construction for falling numbers of the threatened Chinese white dolphin. Others say the bridge is another way for Beijing to bind the autonomous administrative regions closer to China.
Originally slated to open in 2016, the bridge has been dogged by construction delays, budget overruns, and safety issues. Nine workers have died and more than 200 others have been injured building the bridge. This year, six subcontractors have been fined for endangering workers.