The $16.3 billion project in Hong Kong to build a new airport, expanded container port, harbor crossings, expressways, and a major commuter rail system within six years is an immense undertaking with few parallels anywhere in the world, said Kenneth Kwok, Hong Kong's secretary of works.

"It is a very complex coordination (job) tying everything up for a common date," said Mr. Kwok, who outlined additional details of the previously outlined megaproject at a luncheon last week for an American audience in San Francisco.The site for the new airport, to be located at Cheek Lap Kok on Lantau Island, was chosen after a close re- view of over 30 sites. It will be built on reclaimed land, with the inner runway scheduled for completion by 1997 and the outer runway a few years later.

Hong Kong's port, which handled 4.46 million 20-foot containers last year, will be built in stages based on levels of demand. The current cargo throughput of 85 million metric tons in 1989 is expected to rise to 450 million metric tons by 2011.

If the major fixed crossing is a bridge, it will need to withstand winds of up to 150 miles an hour given Hong Kong's position in a monsoon zone. The bridge's lower level, therefore, would be entirely enclosed to allow rail and limited road access during heavy storms.

The 10-mile expressway from the airport will need to be built on columns with major cuts into the hillside at a cost of about $700 million.

Hong Kong has developed two lists for contractors. List I is made up of local companies that will be given limited preference, and List II is for overseas and larger local companies. Those on List II must maintain some type of contact in Hong Kong although an office is not necessary. "We don't want to go looking all over the world," Mr. Kwok said.

The secretary advised American companies interested in participating to consider carefully where their competitive advantage lies first. For instance, U.S. companies have a natural advantage in advanced high-tech management systems and less of a jump in more traditional earth-moving jobs, he said.

San Francisco-based Bechtel Inc. was named project manager for the first phase of the project, a contract worth an estimated $11.5 million.

Drawing on a military analogy, Stuart Hill, Bechtel vice president, said this job is an order of magnitude larger than most standard construction projects. "It's like (the difference between) a commando raid in World War II vs. Normandy," or "like a battle vs. an entire World War."

The project will use almost every engineering consulting firm in Hong Kong, Mr. Hill said. It will also require careful attention to reclamation, he said.

Without proper planning, he said, the project could require three of the world's largest dredges all at the same time. Dredging should instead be coordinated with landfill needs elsewhere, he said. "That saves a lot of money."