China has spent seven years and US$15 billion building the world’s longest bridge over water. The bridge stretches for 34 miles (55km) and links mainland China with Hong Kong and Macau.
Construction of the mammoth Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge began in 2011. Seven years later and at a total cost of US$15 billion, the 34-mile bridge is expected to open by the end of the year.
The Y-shaped bridge, which is 20 times the length of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, has been constructed to provide long-term relief for traffic congestion and to reduce travel times.
Six lanes of traffic will pass across the bridge at a maximum speed of 100kmph, cutting driving time from Hong Kong to Zhuhai from four hours to 45 minutes.
A total of 400,000 tonnes of steel were used in the project, which is enough to build 60 Eiffel Towers.
The bridge has been designed with a service life of 120 years. It can withstand the impact of a strong wind with a speed of 51 metres a second. ‘It can also resist the impact of a magnitude-8 earthquake and a 300,000-tonne vessel’, says Zhu Yongling, an official in charge of the project construction.
When it opens later this year, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will officially replace the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, also in China, to become the world’s longest sea bridge.
The vision for the bridge project first came to light in 1983, as a fantasy of the Hong Kong tycoon Gordon Wu Ying-sheung. His vision was to build a bridge that could help foster better economic ties between China, Hong Kong and Macau.
However, building the bridge hasn’t been a smooth process. Since construction began in 2011, ten workers have died and more than 600 have been injured in 275 incidents. Experts at WWF (World Wildlife Fund) also claim that construction of the bridge has led to falling numbers of Chinese white dolphins in the area.
Whilst China’s president Xi Jinping came to inspect the bridge in early July this year, not everyone is pleased with its imminent opening. Some critics have branded the project a big ‘white elephant’ or a ‘bridge to nowhere’, while others are upbeat about its future, as it will open a whole new world to those who use it.