Due to open to the public this summer, the new HKZM bridge will connect Chinese mainland with the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The bridge is a central plank in China’s master plan to develop its own Greater Bay Area
The construction on the world’s longest sea bridge connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau is finally completed and ready to be opened. The world’s longest sea bridge, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge ( HKZM bridge), will be open to vehicular traffic shortly. Once open to traffic, the 55-kilometer bridge will save a huge amount of travel time and link up 60 million people to a metropolitan economy.
Plus, to let marine traffic pass, three large cable-stayed bridges have been planned in the bridge structure. From west to east, they are the Jiuzhou Channel bridge on the Macau side, Jianghai Channel bridge and Qingzhou Channel bridge.
Major work on the bridge consisted of a 22.9-kilometer-long main bridge, a 6.7-kilometer-long tunnel and an artificial island off the bridge, which is considered the most technically demanding part of the whole construction.
The Y-shaped bridge will cut travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai from three hours to just 30 minutes, further integrating cities in the Pearl River Delta. With expanding capacities of roads, railways and ports, the Greater Bay Area will see a highly convenient and efficient transportation network.
Zhu Yongling, director of the management bureau of the bridge has confirmed that “the bridge used 420,000 tonnes of steel which is enough to build 60 Eiffel Towers” .
Why this bridge has a lot to do with the economic activity in the megalopolis called the Pearl River Delta, one of China’s fastest growing regions? The delta is home to over 56 million people, spread out across urban centres including Hong Kong, Macau, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan.
Yet the transport links between Hong Kong and the western reaches of the Delta have long been regarded as weak. Since there are no roads that directly connect Zhuhai and Macau with Hong Kong, cars have no choice but to take a long detour via the Humen Bridge located further up north – a 200km journey that takes four hours.
Plus, as a result, to reduce transportation cost and time, the governments of Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong decided to build a highway over the Pearl River estuary now known as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
But the real question is: which is the role of Hong Kong in this project. The bridge will boost PRD economy, but nevertheless its big numbers, HKZM bridge already have to face some challenges: is it possible to cross three different borders with only one permit?
As the 12th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Zhuhai-Hong Kong-Macau Cooperation pointed out, the promotion of economic integration and coordinated regional development is an irreversible trend. The PRD (Pearl River Delta), Hong Kong and Macau must strengthen regional cooperation, optimize the allocation of resources, and promote regional division of labour in order to increase their overall competitiveness.
The HZMB will not only shorten the distance between Hong Kong and western PRD but will also make transportation between the two places more flexible and convenient, thus further boosting economic interaction and increasing the flow of personnel, capital, goods and other factors of production in the region.
In terms of manufacturing activities, the HZMB will facilitate the entry and exit of investors and managerial personnel as well as the flow of goods and raw materials and lead to the establishment of new production networks.
For Hong Kong companies needing to expand or shift their production bases, this means a greater choice of destinations. The geographical links that come with the completion of the HZMB will also have a direct impact on the logistics industry besides increasing the choices for entry-exit routes in western PRD and improving efficiency, thus giving western PRD greater significance in regional cooperation and resource allocation as a transit and regional distribution centre for imported goods.