The world’s longest sea crossing connecting Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai opened this week in China. The unusual bridge cum tunnel system consist of a series of three cable-stayed bridges and one undersea tunnel, as well as two artificial islands for a total length of 55 km.
The largest part of the crossing is the 30-km-long Main Bridge, which is actually a bridge and a 6.7 km undersea tunnel that dips beneath the Pearl River Estuary and emerges at the other end just before the Hong Kong border. The undersea tunnel was built to avoid disrupting shipping lanes. The route then continues over a 9.4-km-long viaduct and ends at Chek Lap Kok, the island where Hong Kong International Airport is located.
The $20 billion Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge has been hailed as a key part of the Greater Bay Area plan to connect Hong Kong and Macau to 11 Chinese cities to form a high-tech region to rival Silicon Valley. However, critics say that the multi-billion dollar bridge is just another attempt by the Chinese government to integrate Hong Kong into China. Both Hong Kong and Macau are part of China, but are special administrative regions enjoying certain levels of autonomy with their own governments, legal systems, and policies.
Despite the billions spent in tax payers money, the bridge will not be opened for public transport. Only private shuttle buses and freight vehicles will be allowed to use the link. Private cars will only be able to use it after applying for a special permit. There are rumors that only those people who pay significant taxes in China, and donate large amounts of money to charities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, and of course, those with political connections will be allowed to drive over the bridge. This has led to strong resentment among the public.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge will also be one of the first roadways where drivers would be required to wear heart rate and blood pressure monitoring devices when they cross the bridge. The information will be sent to the bridge’s control center. There will also be security cameras to detect yawning. According to the Guardian, If a driver yawns more than three times in 20 seconds, the “yawn cam” will raise an alert.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, seen from Lantau island in Hong Kong.
An aerial view of the Hong Kong section of the bridge.
One of the artificial islands.