Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan presided at yesterday's ground-breaking ceremony for the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Western Corridor.
Co-funded by the Shenzhen municipal government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the corridor will be the fourth vehicular boundary crossing bridge between Shenzhen and Hong Kong when it becomes operable in late 2005.
Investment on the part of the Shenzhen side is budgeted at 1.57 billion yuan (US$189 million), while Hong Kong's investment will be HK$2.70 billion (US$346.15 million).
"As the only corridor connecting highways in the mainland, the bridge is expected to boost the mutual development of Hong Kong and the mainland, and particularly to further hone the competitive edge of the Pearl River Delta region, including Hong Kong and Macao," said Huang Huahua, provincial governor of Guangdong.
The new bridge will also facilitate development of finance, logistics and tourism, and better position Hong Kong as the hub of the Pearl River Delta, Huang said.
His remarks were echoed by Tung Chee-hwa, HKSAR chief executive.
In the wake of the signing of a CEPA (closer economic partnership arrangement) and the successful sixth Guangdong-Hong Kong joint conference earlier this month, economic and trade co-operation between Hong Kong and the mainland has been significantly upgraded, Tung said.
"The increasingly close communications between Hong Kong and the mainland intensify the cross-boundary traffic demand, making a new corridor essential," said Tung.
Shenzhen and Hong Kong are currently connected by three vehicular boundary crossings.
Traffic volume has increased by 5 per cent on a year-on-year basis over the past five years, and official statistics indicate an average of 42,000 vehicles make the commute each day.
Daily traffic volume is expected to reach 65,000 vehicles in 2006 and the new bridge is expected to handle 80,000 daily, raising the total capacity to 122,000.
The new bridge will be a dual three-lane carriageway with a total length of about 5 kilometres. The Shenzhen section will be 1.8 kilometres and the Hong Kong section 3.2. The speed limit will be set at 100 kilometres per hour.
On the Hong Kong side, the bridge will be extended by a connecting road, Deep Bay Link. Construction of the HK$3.9 billion (US$500 million) connection began in June.
According to Tung, the authorities of Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao will soon initiate the preparatory work of another bridge connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao to further improve traffic conditions in the region.
(China Daily August 29, 2003)