China is ready to inaugurate the longest sea bridge in the world on October 24 this year. The bridge, which connects Hong Kong and Macau with mainland China, is 55 km long and six lanes wide. The project is aimed at bringing these three places closer by reducing the journey time to just about an hour long.
Reportedly built using more steel than as many as 60 Eiffel Towers, the multi-billion dollar project has been touted as the result of an international collaboration. This concrete monster also boasts of four tunnels and four artificial islands. “We have included a lot of foreign experts from the UK, US, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, and the Netherlands,” Gao Xinglin, Bridge team leader, told news organisation Al Jazeera, adding, “They are from around 14 countries.”
The bridge, however, has drawn criticism for over-spending and being responsible for some deadly accidents. But Chinese authorities have applauded the completed project, the construction for which had begun in 2009 by inviting foreign media this week to cover the bridge. The official inauguration date, however, has not been announced.
“We hope that friends from the press can take this opportunity to see the new accomplishment of China in the new era and fresh progress of the ‘one country, two systems'”, Song Ruan, deputy commissioner at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted by Al Jazeera.
Previously under British rule, Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” accord. This granted the region a separate legal system and its own legislative council. However, Beijing still has the last word. Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong allege that China is increasingly coming down on the city’s enshrined freedoms granted by the constitution.
Authorities are expecting close to 40,000 vehicles to cross the bridge on a daily basis, which will include shuttle buses running 10 minutes apart.
This bridge is one of two major infrastructure projects set to open in the region this year — the other is a high-speed rail link to China.