HK-Macau-Zhuhai bridge to be delayed by a year

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CRI, November 27, 2015
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The Hong Kong Highways Department has confirmed for the first time the Hong Kong section of the bridge won't be completed by the original plan of the end of next year.

A rendering of the HK-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge. [Photo:]

A rendering of the HK-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge. [Photo:] 

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the delays, but no official confirmation until this week.

Hong Kong's Highways Department is pinning the blame on a number of factors, including the physical difficulties involved in the construction, as well as issues surrounding land reclamation for the bridge's struts, a shortage of labor and supplies, as well as issues connected to environmental requirements and height limits.

Hong Kong lawmakers don't appear likely to give the green-light to add any additional money into the mix to get the bridge built faster.

Hong Kong Transport Secretary Anthony Cheung says they have no plans to ask for additional cash in the budget.

"Earlier this year, the Transport Panel at LegCo supported our 5.4 billion HK dollars budget request. It should be enough to deal with the delays in the rest of the construction."

Hong Kong's contribution to the bridge was originally set at 30 billion HK dollars, which is just under 4-billion US dollars.

However, the additional 5.4 billion HK dollars being asked for hasn't been approved yet by Hong Kong's Legislative Council.

Another factor causing delays is the drifting of an artificial island built for the bride, which has reportedly drifted as much as 7-meters because of the dredging methods being used.

LegCo Transport panel vice-Chair Tang Ka-piu says this may end up pushing costs higher.

"I am worried the cost and budget will be higher. I urge the Secretary of Transport to have more detailed and clear explanation about the budget and process to the Transport Panel of LegCo."

After the bridge is opened, the travel time from Hong Kong to the mainland city of Zhuhai will be cut from more than three hours to only half an hour.

Professor Xu Jiang with the Department of Geography and Resource Management at the Chinese University of Hong Kong says the delay is likely going to have an impact on plans for the integration of the Pearl River Delta region.

"The three cities could focus their marketing strategies around day trips or two-day trips if it is easier for visitors to travel around. So the delay will cause a slow down of the anticipated development of the regional tourism industry. The bridge is a key piece of infrastructure for Hong Kong playing a greater role in the region."

Hong Kong authorities are also hoping to use the bridge to leverage more shipping container traffic into the city, as it will be easier to move the products to the mainland through the bridge.

Construction of the bridge started in December 2009.

However, work on the Hong Kong side was held-up for around 2-years due to legal challenges over the environmental impact of the bridge.

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