The HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge opened to traffic today, marking the world’s longest bridge-tunnel after a decade of construction. From 9 a.m. this morning, vehicles with special permits can cross the 23-kilometer bridge 24 hours a day.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, lauded the “once in a lifetime” project as a connector that will tie Hong Kong closer to the mainland, according to the Washington Post.
As part of China’s plan to create a Greater Bay Area, including Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in southern China, this project cuts the traveling span from Zhuhai and Macau to Hongkong to less than an hour. Travel between Hong Kong and the other two cities used to take around three hours by crossing Humen bridge in Dongguan, an adjacent city to Zhuhai, or an hour by ferry. Morning tea in Guangzhou, afternoon tea with egg tarts in Macau and a sightseeing tour in Hongkong is no longer a dream.
Apart from increasing transportation, the mega bridge can bring new opportunities to those cities as well.
Logistics will become more cost-efficient. According to a report by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the west bank of Pearl River has much more land for storage and a more complete set of facilities. But the labor cost and warehouse rent is lower than those in Hong Kong. That area, compared to the east bank, was not that developed because of its landscape and lack of channels to communicate with the outside. With the west bank being storage places, Hong Kong can grow as a center for trade and logistics.
Tourism also benefits from the bridge-and-tunnel route. As Macau is a world famous stop for amusement, this connection takes Macau tourists to Hong Kong and to mainland China. One trip will be enriched with multiple destinations.
“This is a bridge of fulfilment, unity, confidence and renaissance,” said China’s President Xi Jinping.
However, these benefits are now available to a limited number of people: 400 buses, 250 taxis and around 11 thousand private cars, according to the User’s Guide for the HongKong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.