Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

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Coordinates: 22°16′57″N 113°46′30″E / 22.2824°N 113.7751°E / 22.2824; 113.7751

Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge
Concept Plan for Lantau.jpg
The bridge in relation to Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 港珠澳大橋
Simplified Chinese 港珠澳大桥
English name
English Hong Kong-Zhuhai-
Macau Bridge
Portuguese name
Portuguese Ponte Hong Kong-
Zhuhai-Macau

The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge is an ongoing construction project which consists of a series of bridges and tunnels that will connect Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, three major cities on the Pearl River Delta in China. The proposed 50 km link is expected to cost US$10.7 billion.[citation needed] With its length, it would become one of the landmarks within the area. The longest bridge section will be 29.6 kilometres long and will include three cable-stayed spans between 280 metres and 460 metres.[1][2] Construction formally began on 15 December 2009.[3] The bridge is due for completion in 2015 and will open in 2016.

Background[edit]

In 1982, the rapid growth and demand of cross-border traffic prompted an agreement between the Hong Kong government and the Shenzhen authorities. This agreement suggested an improvement of connections by opening up new road links. Also proposed was the construction of a footbridge at Lo Wu/Luohu, introduction of ferry services, and enhancement of inspection facilities and services at exit and entry points.

Currently there are five major border crossings connecting Hong Kong and Shenzhen:

  1. Man Kam To crossing provides the most direct access to Luohu and Shenzhen city centre (vehicles only)
  2. Sha Tau Kok crossing connects Hong Kong with routes heading to the Yantian in eastern Shenzhen
  3. Lok Ma Chau crossing provides a link to Futian of Shenzhen for both vehicles and rail, including metro lines (vehicles only HK side)
  4. Lo Wu crossing provides a rail connection between Hong Kong and Luohu in central Shenzhen for passengers only. The number of passengers can reach up to 400,000 during peak hours, often at the beginning or the end of a long holiday period.
  5. Hong Kong–Shenzhen Western Corridor opened in 2007 and accessed via a road bridge directly from HK this crossing is unique in that both immigration for Hong Kong and China are located in the same building on the China side of the bridge. Access only by authorised vehicles on HK side.

Continuous expansion works have been done at these crossings to meet the increasing demand for passenger handling capacity. Additionally, those who are granted special permission and licenses prefer to drive across the border in order to avoid the high flow of travellers at those three gateways.

Lo Wu/Luohu is still the main node linking Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Railway to the Lo Wu/Luohu crossing receives much traffic from the towns. Everyday, millions of rail users pass by Lo Wu/Luohu en route to Shenzhen. In order to cope with the vast amount of cross-border traffic, a gradual extension of the opening hours and series of improvement works at the Terminal have been initiated.

In order to provide long-term relief to the traffic congestion at Lo Wu/Luohu, various projects have been approved and endorsed. The Hong Kong Government and the relevant China authorities have identified the need to open new border crossings. At the third meeting of the China/Hong Kong Conference on the Co-ordination of Major Infrastructure Projects (the Conference) held on 20 September 2002, it was agreed that a joint study should be conducted on the transport linkage between Hong Kong and Pearl River West.

An important study was completed by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Hong Kong Government on the transport linkage between Hong Kong and the western bank of the Pearl River Delta. The study points out that a bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau will provide significant macro socio-economic benefits for the Greater Pearl River Delta Region including Hong Kong. Governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau were authorised by the Chinese authorities to set up the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group to follow up the project. There will be intensive studies on the hydrology, environmental protection, economic benefits, routing, passenger and freight traffic flow of the bridge.

The study analyses the current situation of transport linkage between Hong Kong, Macau and Pearl River West, existing problems and deficiencies; it also forecasts the passenger and freight traffic flow between Hong Kong and Pearl River West. The report points out that the current transport linkage between Pearl River West and Hong Kong is weak and land transport involves a detour via Human Bridge resulting in an increase in transport time and cost. The report also predicts the passenger traffic flow between the eastern and western banks of the Greater Pearl River Delta (PRD) in 2020 will reach 180–240 million and freight traffic 169–220 million tonnes. Of these traffic volumes, the passenger and freight traffic flow between Hong Kong and the western bank of the PRD will significantly increase. An increase of the passenger flow of the Bridge and cargo demand are also anticipated.

The study has considered three alignments linking the two banks of Pearl River. Fieldwork and seminars have been conducted, and views and analyses from various sources have been taken into consideration. The result of the study is that the Hong Kong (Lantau)-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge proposed by the HKSAR Government, a link connecting the three places under "one country, two systems", is the most urgent one and bears significant political and economic implications.

The study points out that the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge will alter the present passive condition of the transport linkage between Hong Kong and Pearl River West which relies mainly on water transport. It will shorten the distance from Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai from 160 km to 30 km, and reduce the journey time to within half an hour. As a result, Pearl River West will lie within the 3-hour transport network that radiates from Hong Kong as its centre.

Originally, the city of Shenzhen had tried hard to be included in the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project, but was rejected in 2004. The idea of a separate link, connecting Shenzhen with Zhongshan, was originally proposed in 2008, but was shelved for several years due to concerns it could jeopardize the bridge connecting Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macau. It was eventually included in the Guangdong government's 12th five-year plan. The Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge will cut travel time from Shenzhen to Zhongshan to less than 30 minutes. Construction is scheduled to start in 2015 and be completed in 2021. Analysts from mainland China and Hong Kong found the project might draw as much as 40% of the potential traffic away from the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and reduce the regional dominance of Hong Kong's airport and harbour.[4]

Preparation[edit]

Aerial photography taken on June 2014 showing Macau section to the left and the tunnel islet to the right

In order to coordinate the project, Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group was established in 2003. In the second meeting, officials from three sides decided to set up an office specifically in Guangzhou to do the work of the group and appointed a design institute in China to conduct the feasibility study and produce a report on landing points for the bridge. The landing points are still being studied and factors such as economic effectiveness and environmental issues will determine where they are.

For the part of the bridge that is situated in Hong Kong, the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau plans to seek $59 million from the Legislative Council's public works subcommittee for investigations and preliminary design work.

Preliminary design work on the proposed Y-shaped bridge is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.

Timeline[edit]

Timeline of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Proposal
Year Events
1983 Hopewell Holdings founder and then Managing Director Gordon Wu proposes the idea of the bridge.
1989 Zhuhai publishes the Lingdingyang Bridge program.
1997 China's central government shows support for the Lingdingyang Bridge program.
2002 (November) Zhu Rongji, then Premier of China at that time, shows support of Wu's idea.
2003 The Chinese government shows support of the idea.
2003 (July) Donald Tsang, then Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong, goes to Beijing to meet with the Chinese government about the bridge.
2003 (August) The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group was established.
2007 (May) Seabed feasibility study began.
2008 (August) China's Central Government, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau agreed to finance 42% of the total costs. The remaining 58% will consist of loans (approximately 22 billion yuan or 3.23 billion US dollars) from Bank of China.[5]
2009 (March) China's Central Government, Hong Kong and Macau agrees to finance 22% of the total costs. The remaining 78% will consist of loans (approximately 57.3 billion yuan or 8.4 billion US dollars) from a consortium of banks led by the Bank of China.[6]
2009 (December) Construction of the bridge begins. Then Vice Premier of China Li Keqiang took charge of the commencement ceremony.
2011 (December) After a delay caused by a legal challenge regarding the environmental impact of the bridge, construction formally begins on the Hong Kong side of the connection.[7]

Project rationale[edit]

Economic[edit]

Advocates suggest that by slashing travel times between the eastern and western banks of the Pearl River Delta, parts of less-developed southern China will gain improved access to global markets through Hong Kong. In addition, it is said that Hong Kong will benefit from this project in the long term, through the enhanced flow of labour and goods between China and the rest of the world.

The concept of this project is similar to that of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia, United States. An undersea tunnel will become a portion of the whole infrastructure in order to allow large container vessels to pass.

The 29-km span would make it one of the world's longest bridges and is expected to reduce travelling times between Hong Kong and Zhuhai or Macau to approximately 40 minutes; down from 4.5 hours (by road) at present.

Although this project is supported by the general public[citation needed], there are some potential drawbacks. Some scholars[who?] pointed out that Hong Kong and Macau will become direct competitors for Chinese tourists. While Macau generally attracts a different market from Hong Kong, with the bridge, tourists from China can bypass Hong Kong and thus Hong Kong will no longer act as a conduit for visitors to Macau. This may possibly have a profound effect on Hong Kong's tourism industry – one that depends significantly on stopover visitors.

Nonetheless, differences in opinions exist. While the bridge will make Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau more accessible, the degree to which it will make the area more attractive as a whole for tourists will vary. In particular, a rail link was seen as important for boosting the local tourism industry – something that is very unlikely to be realised.

In the meantime, the construction of the bridge will give a boost to the construction industry, which may help alleviate unemployment and underemployment, which can boost the region's economy.

Socio-economic effects[edit]

The government has argued that Hong Kong will benefit from the following aspects with the construction of the proposed bridge:

  • Alleviating congestion in existing cross-border checkpoints
  • Encouraging deeper economic integration between Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta Region (PRD)
  • Promoting the socio-economic development of the Pearl River West
  • Strengthening Hong Kong's position as the logistics centre
  • Facilitating development of tourism industry in PRD
  • Creating more employment opportunities
  • Making use of investment from private sector
  • Perfecting the regional transport network

The bridge will benefit the economic development of the whole of the Delta. For Hong Kong, the project will enable the city to continue its status as an international aviation and shipping centre. The Bridge will also help realise the strategic benefits of promoting the socio-economic development of the western Pearl River. In linking up Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, the bridge will form a systematic regional transport network and provide an overland link. This link will substantially shorten the travelling time between the eastern and western sides of the southern tip of the PRD. Faster economic integration between Hong Kong and the region is expected with the increasing flows of people, goods and even capital. With closer economic tie between Hong Kong and its neighbouring region, Hong Kong can assume a leading role in driving the economic development in South China.

Chinese and Hong Kong leaders are able to hammer out the plans for a giant bridge linking Hong Kong to China and Macau, a US$2 billion project driven by Beijing's desire to show the territory can thrive under its rule. The urgency[citation needed] Beijing has placed on the 29 kilometre-long bridge and quicker economic integration between Hong Kong and China was triggered[citation needed] by a 1 July 2003 protest march when half a million Hong Kongers took to the streets to express their discontent with government.[citation needed]

The bridge is the second major high-profile project between China and Hong Kong between June and August, 2003. In late June 2003, the two signed a free trade pact – a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement or called CEPA, further opening China to Hong Kong companies.

Tourism industry[edit]

Different opinions are said about the impact of the bridge on the tourism industry in Hong Kong. Some think the bridge will be a boost to the local tourism industry especially if the bridge contains a rail link, which will increase the capacity of passenger travel across the bridge. The bridge will provide tourists with the opportunity of visiting Macau and the western part of the PRD by road or by rail on top of visiting Hong Kong. The new multi-destination itineraries will definitely enhance the tourist experience in the region. As a matter of fact, this has been a strong selling point for Hong Kong's tourism promotion.

Another advantage is that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau link will also encourage more Macau and PRD residents to visit Hong Kong and shop there. The growing number of these inbound visitors will give a further boost to the local tourism industry and their spending will be a boost to economy as well.

Conversely, some see the bridge as a hazard to Hong Kong's tourism industry as they believe that with the new bridge there will be fewer people travelling to China or Macau via Hong Kong. Since tourism plays an important role in generating revenue for Hong Kong, a loss of tourists will directly affect other sectors in Hong Kong.

The route of the road link for the bridge will have an adverse effect on the natural beauty of Tung Chung Bay (through which the Hong Kong road section is routed) and hence damage the tourism experience in the area, which includes the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, the Tung Chung retail 'outlets', and the country park walks around the bay.

Logistics[edit]

As Hong Kong enjoys a number of competitive advantages in developing its logistics industry, namely, excellent infrastructure and telecommunications facilities, well-established financial and legal systems, very good international connections and a free market. To strengthen its position as a transportation hub in the region, the HKSAR government has indicated its intention to develop Nansha as a logistics base while the Airport Authority is having closer cooperation with the Zhuhai airport.

Their strategy in lining up with these cities located in the west side of the PRD will be best served by the bridge. It will link Hong Kong to the west side of the PRD and hook it up with the ever-expanding network of expressways in China. With the presence of better transportation network, Hong Kong’s logistics industry will not only be able to get more business in the PRD but also extend their services into the inland areas of China including the resource-rich Sichuan Province. Hence, Hong Kong will become an important logistics centre for the whole country.

With the bridge in place, Hong Kong can make avail itself of the Central Government’s ‘Go West’ Development plan to turn itself into a transportation hub to the western region. It has hence within its reach a hinterland with abundant natural resources and a potential market made up of a huge population with growing affluence.

Cross-border checkpoints[edit]

The bridge will connect Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai, it will provide a direct link for passengers and freight traffic heading for the western part of the PRD. This will help alleviate the heavy traffic congestion at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen cross-border checkpoints and reduce the economic losses arising from the daily hold-up at these border crossings. Although part of the equation for alleviating the congestion at the border hinges on better and more efficient arrangements in customs clearance and immigration control, an overland link to the west of the PRD will certainly relieve the pressure on existing border checkpoints.

Additional statistics about cross-border checkpoints in Hong Kong:

Checkpoint Opening hours
Passengers Goods vehicles
Lok Ma Chau (Road) 24 hours 24 hours
Lok Ma Chau (Rail) 06:30–22:30
Lo Wu 06:30–00:00
Man Kam To 07:00–22:00 07:00–22:00
Sha Tau Kok 07:00–20:00 07:00–20:00

These checkpoints all connect Hong Kong to Shenzhen. As the table shows, there is only one checkpoint that operates 24 hours a day for both vehicular and passenger traffic. Moreover, there are no land connections to other parts of Guangdong Province making it rather inconvenient for those travelling to Zhuhai or Zhongshan directly west of Hong Kong across the Pearl River Delta.

Thus, most passengers use the many ferries that shuttle between the various ports at a frequency ranging from 10 minutes to every hour depending on demand and time of the day. However, such ferries do not run late at night nor carry vehicular traffic and are affected by inclement weather conditions such as strong typhoons during the summer months – making the case for the building of a bridge.

An alternative and perhaps more expensive method to travel to China and Macau would be by air. Both Shenzhen and Macau have opened up direct air routes to Hong Kong International Airport in the past decade. Several operators also offer helicopter flights between the cities. While the number of scheduled flights are limited, such aircraft can fly almost around the clock. However, the prohibitive costs make this a mode of transport for the very rich.

Routing[edit]

The route will be connected by a series of roads beginning on the east side of Chek Lap Kok off Route 8 (Hong Kong) onto reclaimed land into a border checkpoint area. Leaving the checkpoint area the route would skirt south of Hong Kong International Airport heading west into the Pearl River Delta. Once the route reaches the western marine boundary of Hong Kong it will become an underwater tunnel and re-surfaces to connect with a series of two tower bridges. Near Macau and Zhuhai the route becomes a bowstring bridge towards another reclaimed island into the a border checkpoint area. Once pass the border checkpoint the route skirts along the Macau-Zhuhai border to connect with Zhuhai Link Road with connections with roads in Zhuhai.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Website of Transport and Housing Bureau (HKSAR): "Cross boundary traffic: Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge". Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  2. ^ Arup (a consulting company involved in the design of the bridges): "Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau bridge overview". Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  3. ^ Arup: "Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge ground breaking", 9 February 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  4. ^ South China Morning Post: "Link spanning Pearl River Delta from Shenzhen to Zhongshan approved", 8 November 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  5. ^ Bi, Mingxin (14 April 2009). "Bank of China to lead loan consortium for Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge". Window of China (Xinhuanet). Retrieved 17 April 2009. 
  6. ^ Cheng, Jonathan (15 December 2009). "China Builds Bridge to Link Southern Cities". Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company). Retrieved 15 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Macau Daily Times: "Pearl River Delta Bridge work begins", 15 December 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011.

External links[edit]