Longest sea-crossing bridge begins construction

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Issue 895, Page 1 – 2
Word count: 942
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang announced the commencement of the reclamation for an offshore artificial island in Zhuhai, which marked the very first step of the 73 billion yuan construction project of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

It is estimated that the reclamation will take three years to complete, while the overall construction of the nearly 50 kilometre long delta bridge will be due by 2016.

When completed, it will be the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge, beating the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge in the southern United States by some 11 kilometres.

China’s Vice Premier Li Keqiang, Secretary of the Guangdong Committee Wang Yang, Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam Kuen, Macau’s Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah and his successor Fernando Chui Sai On, were amongst the officials to chair the launch of the construction of the Zhuhai-Macau Port Artificial Island situated in the waters of Guangdong Province off the Zhuhai “Qing Lv Nan Lu” east yesterday morning.

The reclamation is carried out by the Zhuhai Municipal People’s Government. A total of 216.4 hectares will be reclaimed and of which the Macau Port will occupy nearly 72 hectares.

Once the delta bridge is built, it will become a “significant transportation hub” during the process of jointly establishing a “world-class township” by the three places, a Macau government statement said.

Linking San Shek Wan, Lantau North of Hong Kong, Gongbei of Zhuhai and the Oriental Pearl of Macau’s north, the Y-shaped bridge will cut the driving time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong to 30 minutes from the current 3.5 hours, and between Hong Kong and Macau to less than an hour from three hours.

According to the Chinese Vice Premier, the inauguration was a “cornerstone to promote closer cooperation and integrated development between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, and also to strengthen the overall regional competitiveness”.

Mr Li said that each party should try to make the delta bridge a “contemporary landmark in the Pearl River Delta and become a model that demonstrates the cooperation in infrastructure construction between the three places”.

In addition, he stressed that the three governments must have to ensure construction quality and safety in order to shape the bridge into a “world-class bridge/tunnel project”, as well as place eco-environmental protection in an important position.

Meanwhile, before the launch ceremony began the Vice Premier met with the two Chief Executives and the Macau Chief Executive-designate Fernando Chui Sai On.

Mr Li said he hoped Hong Kong and Macau could further reinforce exchange with Guangdong, so as to continue to expand the cooperation areas and enhance the quality.

He also assured that the central government will maintain its full support to the Hong Kong and Macau Chief Executives, and advised the two SARs to keep a close eye on the evolvement of the global economic trends in a bid to “consolidate the signs of recovery and facilitate long-term prosperity in the territories”.

On the other hand, Zhang Xiaoqiang, the vice-director of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission said in a speech during the ceremony that the State Council was highly concerned about the project, which fulfilled “the wishes of the people of the three places”.

Mr Zhang also said that the bridge will have a significant impact on the development of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, “strengthen cross-strait ties in the Pearl River and promote the economic growth in the western part of the river”.

He hoped that the three governments could contribute together to make the construction reach “a high level of safety, efficiency and environmental friendly”.

Meanwhile, Macau’s Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah told the nearly 500 guests in the ceremony under the guidance of “one country, two systems”, the delta bridge will become an “important breakthrough for the connection of regional infrastructure facilities, which will greatly accelerate the flows of people and information and also logistics within the Pearl River Delta and thus draw the three places even closer to each other”.

Mr Ho said that the Macau SAR will take advantage of the opportunity to further engage in regional cooperation so as to attain sustainable development in the Pearl River Delta Region”.

Moreover, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam Kuen said the bridge will be “a crucial step forward for the social and economic integration” of the region.

“With a more efficient transport network, the finance, tourism, trade, logistics and professional services in Hong Kong can be better [connected] to the west of the Pearl River Delta,” Mr Tsang added.

After the ceremony was completed at around 10am, the officiating guests went to Jiuzhou Port on board a ferry to inspect the offshore work.

Individual boundary crossing facilities

Zhuhai, Hong Kong and Macau will be responsible to build and also manage their own boundary crossing facilities.

In regard to Macau, these include a 24,000 square metre immigration inspection building, a 2,000 space car park on the Macau side and a 5,500 space car park on the other side of the border, and 36 departure/arrival lanes for car inspections.

Besides, there will be passenger pick-up and drop-off zones, loading docks and a light rail station.

The budget of the main body of the bridge, which spans 35.6 kilometres including a 6,648 metre seabed tunnel, is at some 34.72 billion yuan.

The project capital of 15.73 billion yuan is shared by the mainland (seven billion), Hong Kong (6.75 billion) and Macau (1.98 billion). The rest of the amount was raised by bank loans committed by the three sides.

The six-lane expressway is designed to have a service life of 120 years, with a speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour.

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