World's longest sea bridge opens - and causes controversy
It might be two years late and have come at the cost of 18 lives and NZ$30 billion - but this week (23/10/18) the world’s longest sea crossing bridge has opened - linking Hong Kong and Macau to mainland China at the city of Zhuhai
The bridge spans 55 kilometres with about 30 km crossing the sea of the Pearl River Delta with a middle 6.7 km section dipping into an undersea tunnel to allow ships to pass overhead. The tunnel runs between two artificial islands.
The bridge was designed to create a Greater Bay Area which will include Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in southern China which are home to a total of 68 million people.
As the bridge opened though, the critics came out with claims it is a white elephant which will be under used and the user toll won’t generate enough income to recover the costs of running the massive structure. Any one wanting to cross the bridge will need to get a special permit which will be allocated by a quota system.
China’s president Xi Jinping officially opened the bridge on October 23 - nine years after the project began. But the build has been dogged by safety issues. While it’s been designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoons it’s also been dubbed the bridge of death. It’s understood nine workers have died on each side of the project.
Environmental groups say the bridge project may have harmed nearby marine life including the critically rare Chinese white dolphin which are now reportedly not seen in the waters near the bridge.
Local media are reporting the bridge will be fitted with “yawn cams” to monitor drivers showing signs of fatigue. They say yawn three times and bridge authorities will be notified.
Drivers also will have to change which side of the road they drive on during the crossing - traffic drives on the left in Hong Kong and Macau but on the right in China.