World's longest sea bridge finally opens between Hong Kong and China

Aaron Brown
October 23, 2018

Members of the media take pictures on the Hong Kong side of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, October 19, 2018, days before its opening ceremony.

The mega bridge will open to traffic on Wednesday, a day after the ceremony.

But some in Hong Kong have questioned the goal of the bridge, saying no-one really needed it and that it's largely an attempt to symbolically bring Hong Kong closer to the mainland. The Macau-bound service will then go on to call at several Cotai resorts: Sand's China's Venetian Macao; MGM China's MGM Cotai; and Galaxy Entertainment's Galaxy Macau.

Hong Kong fears that it will receive more tourists now.

The bridge's unusual undulating structure is created to keep open vital navigation channels in the Pearl River Delta, which boasts some of the world's busiest ports.

The $15 billion, 55-kilometer (34-mile) bridge is the world's longest sea link and is tipped to carry some 29,000 cars and trucks daily between Zhuhai on the mainland and Hong Kong. Supporters say the bridge will massively reduce the time it takes to travel between the three places, reducing journey times from three hours to 30 minutes.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong, Oct. 21, 2018. Private cars will need a special permit to be allowed to drive on the bridge, and public transportation will not cross it. Shuttle busses crossing the bridge will cost between $8 and $10 for a one-way trip.

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Those eligible to apply have to meet various strict criteria such as being members of certain Chinese government organs, have paid recent taxes on the mainland or donated five million yuan to charities in southern China.

And conservationists say the construction has led to falling numbers of the threatened Chinese white dolphin.

Environmentalists also warned the bridge would have a devastating impact on a remarkable and already critically endangered species of pink dolphin in the Pearl River estuary.

A total of seven workers have died - and a further 129 injured - since construction began, with many having slipped or fallen.

"Part of the bridge crosses two of Guangzhou Port's shipping lanes", said Li Jiang, a HKZM Bridge Authority project manager, according to Xinhua.

To Claudia Mo, a Hong Kong democratic politician, the new bridge's political significance outweighs its practical usefulness.

"Such a huge investment using the Hong Kong taxpayer's money. yet basically it is not open to us at all", said one comment on the South China Morning Post website. It's also been described as one of the world's most unusual roadways, reportedly boasting special features like yawn-detecting cameras and blood pressure-monitoring machines.

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