China Daily reports the commencement of the 30-mile Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the longest sea bridge under construction world-wide. The six-lane expressway will cut travel time from three-hours to around 30-minutes to and from the densely populated and lucrative centers of manufacturing, finance and tourism located in and around Guangdong Province to Hong Kong.
The deep-water port city Zhuhai (Guangdong Province) has become a boom town for tourism, high-tech manufacturing and Macao is noted for its entertainment and gambling endeavors. The completion date of the bridge is set for 2016. The estimated cost of the project will exceed $10 billion, shared among the central government, Hong Kong and Guangdong provinces.
According to the most powerful economic agency in China's governmental structure, the National Development and Reform Commission headed by Zhang Xioqiang, "no efforts will be spared to maximize the economic benefit of the project." Very low toll fees will be charged to encourage the general population to use the bridge.
The Y shaped bridge will employ cutting edge engineering design features which include the ability to withstand up to a 8.0 magnitude earthquake, typhoons and the ability to shrug off the impact of a 300,000 ton vessel. Most remarkably is the planned longevity of the bridge which is designed to last an estimated 120-years.
The main part of the sea bridge will feature an 18-mile oversea pass with a 3-3/4 mile harbor tunnel under the South China Sea. Two artificial islands will be created in the Macao and Zhuhai ports that will connect the tunnel and the bridge on the other side. Keeping in mind the aesthetics of the project, millions of dollars are allocated for landscaping, tourist roadside turnouts and preservation of the white dolphin, a natural inhabitant of the South China Sea.
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