The longest sea-crossing on Earth is found in China. The bridge system is referred to as the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge, and it is 34 miles long. It links the city of Hong Kong, the city Macau, and the city of Zhuhai in the Pearl River basin. The bridge system is comprised of an undersea tunnel, three cable-stayed bridges, and two artificial islands. The bridge was opened to the public on October 24th, 2018, after nine years of construction.
Construction of the Sea-Crossing
The idea of a bridge to link the Chinese city of Zhuhai to Macau and Hong Kong was first proposed in the 1980s by Gordon Wu, the founder of a Chinese construction company. At the start of the 21st century, Chinese and Hong Kong authorities commissioned a study on a possible link between mainland China and Hong Kong. Some of the important areas of study included landing points, bridge design, the source of funds, and border crossing stations. In 2009, authorities in China, Macau, and Hong Kong agreed to jointly fund the bridge project. Construction of the Mega Bridge began on the mainland in December 2009, and it consists of three parts. Initially, the constructors planned to complete the project in 2016, but due to disputes and legal challenges, the entire bridge was completed two years late in February 2018.
The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge
The bridge cost approximately $20 billion to complete. Approximately 400,000 tons of steel were used in the process, and the bridge includes a 4-mile underwater tunnel that allows ship on the sea to pass through. The rest of the bridge is made of two link roads, viaducts, and land tunnels that link the three Asian cities. It was built to endure harsh conditions such as typhoons and earthquakes and the engineers who constructed the bridge estimate that it will last for 120 years.
Benefits of the Bridge
The main reason for constructing the bridge was to link the Chinese mainland to the neighboring cities of Macau and Hong Kong. Once the bridge was opened to the public, it cut down the traveling time between the city of Hong Kong and mainland China from about three hours to only half an hour. As a result, the bridge is expected to boost business in the three cities. Some of the industries set to gain from the bridge include tourism sector, financial sector, and the manufacturing sector. The bridge is also expected to improve relations between mainland China and the neighboring territories of Hong Kong and Macau.
Legal Matters Concerning the Bridge
Numerous legal and environmental issues have plagued the longest sea bridge on earth. At first, the dispute was over the project financing. Authorities from Macau, China, and Hong Kong disagreed on the formula for funding the bridge. Secondly, activists complained about the bridge and the fatalities that occurred during construction. Many construction workers suffered severe injuries, and some died in the course of construction. Lastly, environmental activists were against the project due to its effects on the environment. It is estimated that the dolphin population in the area has dropped by 60% since the construction of the bridge began. Conservationists have taken steps to protect the remaining dolphin population and other marine life in the Pearl River Delta.