After nine years of construction, a $20-billion bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai is set to open this week.
The 55-kilometre bridge, which is scheduled to open to the public this Wednesday (Oct 24), is considered the longest sea-crossing bridge ever built.
Supporters of the structure say the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will reduce travel times between Hong Kong and Macau from three hours to 30 minutes, benefiting both tourists and daily commuters in the region.
“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 last Friday.
Chan outlined other benefits of the bridge: the travel time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong International Airport is currently about four hours. With the bridge, it will be shortened to roughly about 45 minutes. In a similar vein, the travelling time between Zhuhai and Kwai Tsing Container Terminal will be shortened from 3.5 hours to just 75 minutes.
The bridge is a feat in engineering and design. It was made with 400,000 tons of steel (4.5 times the amount used in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge) and is able to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake, a super typhoon and strikes by cargo vessels.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend an opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Tuesday (Oct 23) before the bridge opens to public traffic the next day.