Construction began Tuesday on an enormous three-part, bridge between Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao that will eventually speed transport throughout the Pearl River Delta on an expressway with three lanes in each direction.
The Hong Kong Government said the bridge will significantly reduce the cost and time for travelers and for the flow of goods between Hong Kong and the Western Pearl River Delta, accelerate the economic integration of the delta and its neighboring provinces, and increase its competitiveness with countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other economic zones such as the Yangtze Delta region.
The bridge, which will take six years to complete, consists of three parts, including the main bridge, the boundary crossing facilities of Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao, and link roads in the three places. The 18.4-mile-long main bridge, which will be jointly constructed by the three regions it connects, is designed to allow vehicles to travel at 65 miles per hour.
The western end of the bridge is on an artificial island off Gongbei, and the eastern end is on an artificial island where two tunnels under the Lingding Channel and Qingzhou Channels will maintain shipping navigation into the Hong Kong Harbor.
Two artificial islands will be constructed to provide change-over facilities between bridge and tunnel to ensure that the traffic capacity of the key shipping channels towards Guangzhou and Shenzhen ports will not be affected.
The bridge, which will be one of the most technically complicated landmark projects in China's transport history, is designed to last 120 years.
It will be financed by the Chinese government and the governments of the three regions it connects. Beijing will provide $1 billion, Hong Kong will contribute $989 million and Macao will contribute $290 million. The remaining cost will be financed by a consortium with Bank of China as the lead bank to provide loans.
Within the Hong Kong territory, the proposed boundary crossing facilities will connect the main bridge with the Hong Kong Link Road and the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link, which will form a road network connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Macao and Shenzhen.
The start of construction was celebrated in ceremonies held Tuesday that were attended by officials of the regional and national governments.
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