It’s official folks, the long awaited Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is opening to traffic this week. After nine long years, the bridge is scheduled to open at 9am this Wednesday, October 24, according to People’s Daily.
The formal, public opening date and time of the bridge was announced over the weekend by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Administration, and is a day later than the launch date publicized last week by several media organizations, including That’s.
When the structure opens this week, commuters traveling between Hong Kong International Airport and Zhuhai will be able to complete their journey in roughly 45 minutes, down from around four hours at present, according to South China Morning Post.
The link spans 55 kilometers across and beneath the sea and is currently the longest ocean-crossing bridge in the world.
The western section of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Image via Wikimedia
Construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge was anything but smooth. In March of last year, two construction workers were killed when a collapsed viaduct on Lantau Island pulled the men – one a Nigerian national – into the ocean. In a report into the accident, Dragages-China Harbour VSL Joint Venture was cited for failing to follow standard safety regulations. The report noted that the workers should have been attached to a more secure platform.
This was not the first time bridge developers committed violations. Between 2010 and July 2017, there were 275 incidents resulting in over 600 injuries and 10 fatalities.
Back in May of last year, 21 individuals, including “two senior executives, two senior site laboratory technicians, 12 site laboratory technicians and five laboratory assistants,” were arrested for allegedly falsifying concrete test reports.
A Chinese white dolphin swimming off the coast of Lantau Island. Image via Wikimedia
The bridge’s construction has also been linked by environmental groups to the disappearance of Chinese white dolphins in the northeastern area of Lantau Island. This year, for the third consecutive year, no Chinese white dolphins were spotted off the northeast coast of Lantau, and the lack of cetacean sightings in this area reaffirmed suspicions that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project is at least partially responsible.
But now that construction woes are in the past, attention has turned to the future of the bridge, with one question ringing out above all others: will daily usage of the bridge justify its massive cost?
Back in 2008, according to South China Morning Post, it was predicted that daily bridge traffic would reach 171,800 passengers and 33,100 vehicles by 2030. Eight years later, in 2016, a study forecast daily usage to hit 126,000 passengers and 29,100 vehicles.
A number of reasons were given for the lowered expectations, but the government promised to monitor the situation and take appropriate steps to maximize the benefits of the soon-to-be-open transport link.
Tickets for One Bus routes between Hong Kong and Macau go on sale Monday, October 22 at 7am at the APM Mall ticket office in Hong Kong. Tickets for the HZM Bus shuttle service between Hong Kong and Zhuhai will go on sale Tuesday, October 23 at 9am, follow Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Zhuhai Port on WeChat (ID: 港珠澳大桥珠海口岸) for more information.
UPDATE (October 22, 2018 at 8.20pm CST): This article has been updated to include the sale information for HZM Bus shuttle services.
[Cover image via Wikimedia]