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World's Longest Sea-Crossing Bridge Opens

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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After nine years of construction, the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge, connecting Hong Kong and Macao to China’s mainland, is set to open on Tuesday (Oct. 23), marked by a ceremony to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The 34-mile, $20 billion Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was originally slated to open in 2016, but continuous delays, including cost overruns, pushed the opening date back to this year. The project is part of the Greater Bay Area plan, an endeavor that will knit together Hong Kong and Macao (also known as Macau) to 11 Chinese cities that will form a high-tech region. Concerns over the impact to local endangered wildlife and worker safety remain some of the ongoing controversies associated with the project.

Bridge Details

The structure consists of three cable-stayed bridges and two artificial islands—each measuring 1 million square feet—that connect a 4-mile tunnel. The structure, which contains 400,000 tons of steel, was also built to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake, a super typhoon and being struck by super-sized cargo vessels. The tunnel, connected by two of the artificial islands, was put in place to avoid busy shipping lanes that run through the Pearl River Delta. Private cars will only be able to use the bridge after applying for a special permit; traffic will otherwise be largely composed of private shuttle buses and freight vehicles.

China Communications Construction Co., Ltd. served as the lead general contractor on the artificial islands and tunnel portions of the project, working in conjunction with CCCC Highway Consultants Co. Ltd.; AECOM Asia Co. Ltd.; COWI A/S; Shanghai Urban Construction Group Corporation; and Shanghai Tunnel Engineering & Rail Transit Design and Research Institute; among others. China Railway Wuhan Bridge Engineering Consultation & Management Co. Ltd. oversaw the construction of the artificial islands.

Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute Co. Ltd. served as design and construction consultation on the project. CCCC Highway Consultants Co. Ltd. and China Railway Bridge Survey & Design Institute Co. Ltd. worked on designing different portions of the structure.

Bridge History

The idea of a Greater Bay Area was first proposed in 2009, but difficulties, including three different currencies, three borders and three different legal systems, barred the way, Marcos Chan, head of research for commercial real estate consultancy CBRE Hong Kong, Southern China and Taiwan, told CNN back in May. In order to overcome these hurdles, the Chinese government had to promote integration along the cities as well as reduce these barriers. The HKZM Bridge is a step in that direction, cutting drive times between the cities from three hours down to 30 minutes.

The bridge, which will also help boost tourism, is not the only link knitting the region together: The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will connect Hong Kong to China's high-speed rail network, and two new border crossings will also connect the region. In total, the bridge links Hong Kong’s Lantau island to Zhuhai on the southern coast of the Guangdong province along with Macao.

Controversies and Criticisms

One of the primary points of controversy with the project is that the Pearl River Delta is home to an endangered Chinese white dolphin population that has struggled with land reclamation efforts in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Conservation experts recently expressed concern to CNN that the work on the bridge, along with the expansion of the Hong Kong airport, could prove disastrous for what remains of the species. In response, the city’s government created extra marine parks to protect aquatic life. Other experts noted that this effort may be too late to mitigate the damage caused by construction.

The bridge project has also faced criticisms over safety, as seven workers died during construction and another 275 were injured. City officials blamed the fatalities on the lack of manpower, and a court has fined six subcontractors to date.


Tagged categories: AS; Bridges; China; Infrastructure; Program/Project Management; Project Management

Comment from VCBud Jenkins, (10/27/2018, 1:03 PM)

It would be nice to know what coating they recommend.

Comment from peter gibson, (10/27/2018, 1:14 PM)

Yes I agree.This is a coatings publication. We want details on the coating not just a pretty story about the bridge. Also, $20 Bn for 34 miles is a deal. The SF bay bridge was $ 7 Bn for one mile over water.We all know the answer...right.

Comment from Tim Williams, (10/29/2018, 7:15 AM)


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