By P Chong
24 February 2011
It’s absolutely mind boggling to even think of it! It’s been a dream for the last decade and that dream is now becoming a reality. China never does things in half measures. China has begun constructing a bridge to link southern Guangdong province, China‘s main manufacturing hub, with Hong Kong and Macao. When completed by 2016, officials say it will be the world’s “longest sea-crossing bridge” – spanning nearly 50km (30 miles). One branch of the bridge will reach Zhuhai in Guangdong province.
The bridge will be a six-lane expressway that can withstand earthquakes up to 8.0 magnitude, strong typhoons and the impact of a 300,000 tonne vessel, said Zhu Yongling, one of the officials leading the project. (This is just the prelude to even greater projects to come in the wake of “Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One”. More details to follow after this article).
Thirty-five kilometres of it will be over water. Driving times between Zhuhai and Macau to Hong Kong will be cut from three hours to about 30 minutes. According to the China Daily, Guangdong has reached an agreement with Hong Kong and Macao on funding. “The bridge will cost 42.2 billion yuan ($5.9 billion). The project will be partly funded by the governments of the three neighbouring regions, and the rest will be raised through public bidding,” Governor Huang Huahua, who is also a deputy to the 11th NPC, told reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of the top legislature.
- About 30 km long.
- Total investment of about 42.2 billion yuan ($5.9 billion), instead of 36 billion yuan previously estimated.
- Toll charge for 50 years, investment to be recovered in 37 years.
- Reduces travel time between Hong Kong-Zhuhai and Hong Kong-Macao from about six hours currently to less than an hour.
- It will consequently help to reduce transport costs.
- The three already enjoy close economic ties, but they must contend with a complicated network of ferries and zigzagging roads for transportation. This will be an excellent short-cut.
The project is expected to boost economic development in the region and improve the comprehensive competitiveness of the Pearl River Delta area, experts said.
Guangdong has been a key laboratory for experiments involving the country’s reform and opening up policy over the past 30 years. The southern province saw its gross domestic product rise 14.5 percent year-on-year in 2007, to 3 trillion yuan, accounting for about one-eighth of the country’s total. The plan to build the cross-sea bridge is just one of the moves Guangdong has made to strengthen its economic cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao.
Huang said the provincial authorities will invest in infrastructure in the Pearl River Delta, which has become a magnet for overseas investors, particularly from Hong Kong and Macao.
A complex rail transit network is also in the pipeline that will one day ensure that a journey between any two cities in the region takes less than one hour, Huang said.
The governor said he expects Shenzhen, which is the closest city to Hong Kong, to set an example for the whole province’s close relations with the special administrative region.
According to projections more than 200 million vehicles a year will be using the bridge by 2020, carrying 170-220 million tons of freight.
“Through a more convenient and fast transport network, Hong Kong’s financial, tourism, trade and logistics and professional services can become better integrated with the Pearl River Delta and the surrounding areas,” said Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, at a ceremony launching the project.
Indicative of the importance Beijing has attached to the project, the Chinese vice-premier Li Keqiang, the man widely tipped to succeed the prime minister Wen Jiabao in 2012, was on hand to inaugurate construction.
Make 2016 a date in your travel calendar to visit
this Special Economic Zone region to witness
the splendour & magnificence of
the economic wonder that China has in store for you!
Source: The Telegraph & Chinese Daily
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