China launches the longest sea-crossing bridge ever built globally. It has been opened to traffic in the morning today on 23rd October by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
The construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge began almost nine years ago and will connect the destinations mentioned directly to the Chinese mainland. The total length of the bridge is approximately 34 miles (55 kms). The project though was delayed by a couple of years and the total cost was accounted at $20 billion.
Hong Kong is a former British colony of 7.4 million that was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a framework known as “one country, two systems,” whereby it maintains a semiautonomous status apart from the mainland. However, the independence has been eroded in recent years, and many Hong Kongers are of the opinion that the sea link is a further leash to mainland China.
Zhuhai and Macau are adjoining areas on the mainland due west of Hong Kong. Both these places are significant tourist destinations. Infact, Macau now is also closely rivalling with Las Vegas, the Mecca of gambling in the States.
The distance between the cities will be cut from three hours down to just thirty minutes.
“With the bridge, the travelling 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,” the city’s transport secretary, Frank Chan, said, according to CNN.
The government has projected as many as 29,000 cars to traverse the sea link daily by 2030. Also the construction of another delta-spanning bridge, which is less than 20 miles to the north in mainland China, is underway as well.
Private car owners in Hong Kong will require a permit to use the bridge, however, people will also have access to shuttle buses.
It is estimated that the bridge will be in use for 120 years but there could be possible restrictions on usage going forward.