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|Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge|
|Portuguese||Ponte Hong Kong-
The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (Chinese: 港珠澳大橋) is an ongoing construction project which consists of a series of bridges and tunnels crossing the Lingdingyang channel that will connect Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, three major cities on the Pearl River Delta in China. The 50 kilometres (31 miles) link is expected to cost US$10.6 billion (HK$83 billion). With its length, it would become one of the landmarks within the area. The longest bridge section will be 29.6 kilometres (18.4 mi) long and will include three cable-stayed spans between 280 and 460 metres (920 and 1,510 ft).
Construction formally began on 15 December 2009. The last bridge tower was erected on 2 June 2016. The last straighted-element of the 4860 meter long immersed tunnel was installed on 12 July 2016. Originally set to be opened to traffic on 15 October 2016 the project is at least a year late and now is due to open in December 2017.
In 1982, the rapid growth and demand of cross-border traffic prompted an agreement between the Hong Kong government and the Shenzhen authorities. This agreement suggested an improvement of connections by opening up new road links.
Continuous expansion works have been done at the existing crossings to meet the increasing demand for passenger handling capacity.
In order to provide long-term relief to the traffic congestion, various projects have been approved and endorsed. The Hong Kong Government and the relevant China authorities have identified the need to open new border crossings. At the third meeting of the China/Hong Kong Conference on the Co-ordination of Major Infrastructure Projects (the Conference) held on 20 September 2002, it was agreed that a joint study should be conducted on the transport linkage between Hong Kong and Pearl River West.
An important study was completed by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Hong Kong Government on the transport linkage between Hong Kong and the western bank of the Pearl River Delta. The study points out that a bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau will provide significant macro socio-economic benefits for the Greater Pearl River Delta Region including Hong Kong. The study has considered three alignments linking the two banks of Pearl River. The result of the study is that the Hong Kong (Lantau)-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge proposed by the HKSAR Government, a link connecting the three places under "one country, two systems", is the most urgent one and bears significant political and economic implications.
The study points out that the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge will alter the present passive condition of the transport linkage between Hong Kong and Pearl River West which relies mainly on water transport. It will shorten the distance from Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai from 160 to 30 kilometres (99 to 19 mi), and reduce the journey time to within half an hour. As a result, Pearl River West will lie within the 3-hour transport network that radiates from Hong Kong as its centre.
In order to coordinate the project, Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group was established in 2003. In the second meeting, officials from three sides decided to set up an office specifically in Guangzhou to do the work of the group and appointed a design institute in China to conduct the feasibility study and produce a report on landing points for the bridge. The landing points were studied and factors such as economic effectiveness and environmental issues determined the final location of those points.
For the part of the bridge that is situated in Hong Kong, the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau sought $59 million from the Legislative Council's public works subcommittee for investigations and preliminary design work.
Preliminary design work on the proposed Y-shaped bridge was completed by the end of 2004.
|Timeline of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Proposal|
|1983||Hopewell Holdings founder and then Managing Director Gordon Wu proposes the idea of the bridge.|
|1989||Zhuhai publishes the Lingdingyang Bridge program.|
|1997||China's central government shows support for the Lingdingyang Bridge program.|
|2002 (November)||Zhu Rongji, then Premier of China at that time, shows support of Wu's idea.|
|2003||The Chinese government shows support of the idea.|
|2003 (July)||Donald Tsang, then Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong, goes to Beijing to meet with the Chinese government about the bridge.|
|2003 (August)||The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group was established.|
|2007 (May)||Seabed feasibility study began.|
|2008 (August)||China's Central Government, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau agreed to finance 42% of the total costs. The remaining 58% will consist of loans (approximately 22 billion yuan or 3.23 billion US dollars) from Bank of China.|
|2009 (March)||China's Central Government, Hong Kong and Macau agrees to finance 22% of the total costs. The remaining 78% will consist of loans (approximately 57.3 billion yuan or 8.4 billion US dollars) from a consortium of banks led by the Bank of China.|
|2009 (December)||Construction of the bridge begins. Then Vice Premier of China Li Keqiang took charge of the commencement ceremony.|
|2011 (December)||After a delay caused by a legal challenge regarding the environmental impact of the bridge, construction formally begins on the Hong Kong side of the connection.|
Advocates suggest that by slashing travel times between the eastern and western banks of the Pearl River Delta, parts of less-developed southern China will gain improved access to global markets through Hong Kong. In addition, it is said that Hong Kong will benefit from this project in the long term, through the enhanced flow of labour and goods between China and the rest of the world.
The concept of this project is similar to that of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia, United States and the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden. An undersea tunnel will become a portion of the whole infrastructure in order to allow large container vessels to pass.
The 29-km span would make it one of the world's longest bridges and is expected to reduce travelling times between Hong Kong and Zhuhai or Macau to approximately 40 minutes; down from 4.5 hours (by road) at present.
The government has argued that Hong Kong will benefit from the following aspects with the construction of the proposed bridge:
Alleviating congestion in existing cross-border checkpoints Encouraging deeper economic integration between Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta Region (PRD) Promoting the socio-economic development of the Pearl River West Strengthening Hong Kong's position as the logistics centre Facilitating development of tourism industry in PRD Creating more employment opportunities Making use of investment from private sector Perfecting the regional transport network
The bridge will benefit the economic development of the whole of the Delta. For Hong Kong, the project will enable the city to continue its status as an international aviation and shipping centre. The Bridge will also help realise the strategic benefits of promoting the socio-economic development of the western Pearl River. In linking up Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, the bridge will form a systematic regional transport network and provide an overland link. This link will substantially shorten the travelling time between the eastern and western sides of the southern tip of the PRD. Faster economic integration between Hong Kong and the region is expected with the increasing flows of people, goods and even capital. With closer economic tie between Hong Kong and its neighbouring region, Hong Kong can assume a leading role in driving the economic development in South China.
Chinese and Hong Kong leaders are able to hammer out the plans for a giant bridge linking Hong Kong to China and Macau, a US$2 billion project driven by Beijing's desire to show the territory can thrive under its rule. The urgency Beijing has placed on the 29 kilometres (18 mi) long bridge and quicker economic integration between Hong Kong and China was triggered by a 1 July 2003 protest march when half a million Hong Kongers took to the streets to express their discontent with government.
The bridge is the second major high-profile project between China and Hong Kong between June and August, 2003. In late June 2003, the two signed a free trade pact – a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement or called CEPA, further opening China to Hong Kong companies.
Different opinions are said[by whom?] about the impact of the bridge on the tourism industry in Hong Kong. Some[who?] think the bridge will be a boost to the local tourism industry especially if the bridge contains a rail link, which will increase the capacity of passenger travel across the bridge. The bridge will provide tourists with the opportunity of visiting Macau and the western part of the PRD by road or by rail on top of visiting Hong Kong. The new multi-destination itineraries will definitely enhance the tourist experience in the region. As a matter of fact, this has been a strong selling point for Hong Kong's tourism promotion.
Another advantage is that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau link will also encourage more Macau and PRD residents to visit Hong Kong and shop there. The growing number of these inbound visitors will give a further boost to the local tourism industry and their spending will be a boost to economy as well.
Conversely, some see the bridge as a hazard to Hong Kong's tourism industry as they believe that with the new bridge there will be fewer people travelling to China or Macau via Hong Kong. Since tourism plays an important role in generating revenue for Hong Kong, a loss of tourists will directly affect other sectors in Hong Kong.
The route of the road link for the bridge will have an adverse effect on the natural beauty of Tung Chung Bay (through which the Hong Kong road section is routed) and hence damage the tourism experience in the area, which includes the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, the Tung Chung retail outlets, and the country park walks around the bay.
As Hong Kong enjoys a number of competitive advantages in developing its logistics industry, namely, excellent infrastructure and telecommunications facilities, well-established financial and legal systems, very good international connections and a free market. To strengthen its position as a transportation hub in the region, the HKSAR government has indicated its intention to develop Nansha as a logistics base while the Airport Authority is having closer cooperation with the Zhuhai airport.
Their strategy in lining up with these cities located in the west side of the PRD will be best served by the bridge. It will link Hong Kong to the west side of the PRD and hook it up with the ever-expanding network of expressways in China. With the presence of better transportation network, Hong Kong’s logistics industry will not only be able to get more business in the PRD but also extend their services into the inland areas of China including the resource-rich Sichuan province. Hence, Hong Kong will become an important logistics centre for the whole country.
With the bridge in place, Hong Kong can make avail itself of the Central Government’s ‘Go West’ Development plan to turn itself into a transportation hub to the western region. It has hence within its reach a hinterland with abundant natural resources and a potential market made up of a huge population with growing affluence.
The bridge will connect Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai, it will provide a direct link for passengers and freight traffic heading for the western part of the PRD. This will help alleviate the heavy traffic congestion at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen cross-border checkpoints and reduce the economic losses arising from the daily hold-up at these border crossings.
The Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island (HKBCF Island) is an artificial island being constructed as the Hong Kong-side landing point for the bridge, the viaduct to the North Lantau Highway, and the tunnel to Tuen Mun New Town. With conventional land reclamation, marine mud sitting on the seafloor at the reclamation site is dredged and discarded elsewhere, causing environmental damage. But the HKBCF Island is being constructed with a non-dredge reclamation hitherto unused in Hong Kong, whereby steel circular cells in a row are pushed through the mud and filled with inert material, forming a seawall.
Owing to this unconventional method the HKBCF Island is physically shifting, threatening to severely delay the project. The Highways Department admitted that parts of the reclamation have moved "up to six or seven metres" but denied reports in various sources of movement up to 20 metres. The Hong Kong Free Press reported that the megaproject may not be completed before 2021, delayed from the original projected completion date in 2016. Highways Department director Peter Lau responded that some movement was expected, and that safety has not been jeopardised.
Mainland contractors are also reportedly having difficulty constructing the immersed tube in their section of the project, with the director of the Guangdong National Development and Reform Commission stating that 2020 would be a difficult target to meet.
The route will be connected by a series of roads beginning on the east side of Chek Lap Kok off Route 8 (Hong Kong) onto reclaimed land into a border checkpoint area. Leaving the checkpoint area the route would skirt south of Hong Kong International Airport heading west into the Pearl River Delta. Once the route reaches the western marine boundary of Hong Kong it will become an underwater tunnel and re-surfaces to connect with a series of two tower bridges. Near Macau and Zhuhai the route becomes a bowstring bridge towards another reclaimed island into the a border checkpoint area. Once pass the border checkpoint the route skirts along the Macau-Zhuhai border to connect with Zhuhai Link Road with connections with roads in Zhuhai.
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