China opens world’s longest sea bridge

The 55-kilometre bridge connects Hong Kong with Macau and mainland China

After nine long years of construction, China has finally finished one of its most significant projects — the longest sea bridge in the world.

The bridge is 55 kilometres long and connects Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai —Shutterstock China opens world's longest sea bridge
The bridge is 55 kilometres long and connects Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai — Shutterstock

Today, the Chinese president Xi Jinping himself has officially opened the 55-kilometre bridge in Zhuhai. The city will be now connected with Hong Kong and Macau across the Pearl River Delta.

The project is part of an ambitious Chinese plan to create a Greater Bay Area that would consist of the three cities. The total cost of the project, including other infrastructure connected to the bridge, is estimated to be $20bn — the main bridge alone cost $6.92bn.

The road includes a 7-kilometre-long tunnel that reaches a maximum depth of 44.5 metres and allows ships to pass through the channel.

The design of the bridge allows it to endure earthquakes and typhoons. It was built with 400,000 tonnes of steel, enough to build 60 Eiffel Towers.

The bridge is set to welcome its first motorists on Wednesday. However, not everybody will be able to cross. Drivers who wish to use it will have to obtain a special permit which will be allocated according to a quota system. There will be a toll for all vehicles as well.

The Chinese government had estimated that 9,200 vehicles will cross the bridge every day. They had to lower the estimate because other transport networks have been established in the region.

The road includes a 7 km long tunnel that reaches the maximum depth of 44.5 metres allowing ships to pass through —Shutterstock China opens world's longest sea bridge
The road includes a 7-kilometre-long tunnel that reaches a maximum depth of 44.5 metres, allowing ships to pass through — Shutterstock

More than 68 million people live in the region. Currently, travelling between Zhuhai and Hong Kong takes up to four hours. The new bridge should cut it down to 30 minutes.  

Despite its scale, the project failed to avoid criticism. With 18 workers dying during the construction, the bridge has been called the “bridge of death” by some local media.

There have been voices raising concerns about its environmental impact and about its impact on politics in Hong Kong.