The world’s longest sea crossing bridge is set to open this week, after nine years in the making.
The bridge spans 55km (34 miles) and connects Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai, as well as eight other major cities.
It reportedly cost a cool $20 billion and will be finally open to drivers on Wednesday (October 24), in a ceremony which will be attended by the country’s president, Xi Jinping.
The bridge was constructed with 60 times more steel than what was used to build the Eiffel Tower, and includes a four-mile undersea tunnel, connected by two artificial islands.
It hopes to increase big business by drastically reducing commuting, with journey times between the cities said to be cut from three hours down to just thirty minutes.
The bridge is also a key element of China’s plan for a Greater Bay Area covering 56,500 square kilometers (21,800 square miles) of southern China, and encompassing 11 cities, including Hong Kong and Macau, that are home to a joint 68 million people, reports CNN.
‘I declare Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge officially open,’ President Xi said while opening the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge.
The city’s transport secretary Frank Chan said on Friday:
With the bridge, the traveling time between Hong Kong and the Western Pearl River Delta region will be shortened significantly, thereby bringing the Western Pearl River Delta region within three hours’ drive from Hong Kong.
In a 2008 consultancy study, 33,100 vehicles and 171,800 passengers were estimated to cross the bridge daily, come 2030. However those projections were lowered to 29,100 vehicles and 126,000 passengers in a 2016 study, down 12 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.
‘You can’t see the existing transport connections — in a literal way. But this bridge is very visible … you can see it from the plane when you fly in to Hong Kong, and it’s breathtaking,’ lawmaker Claudia Mo told CNN earlier this year.
‘It links Hong Kong to China almost like an umbilical cord. You see it, and you know you’re linked up to the motherland.’
Guangdong party secretary, Li Xi, said the bridge could withstand typhoons, including Mangkhut, which struck the region last month.
The ‘Greater Bay Area’ was plotted and planned personally by President Xi Jinping. It’s an important national strategy which he personally pushed for.
It’s thought the bridge will provide important opportunities for Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau,
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