An international bidding on the third cross-sea bridge which connects the downtown areas of Macao peninsula and Taipa island has started. This will be the largest infrastructural project built in Macao since it returned to the motherland at the end of 1999.
Early Saturday morning, the special administrative region (SAR) government accepted 11 bidding papers from companies based in China's inland, Macao, Hong Kong, the United States and Japan.
The bidders proposed budgets ranging from 380 million to 1.18 billion patacas (US$47.5 million to 147.5 million) and time limits of no more than 28 months to meet with the government requirement - which means the project will be completed early in 2005 if it is kicked off in October as scheduled.
Their bidding involves different designs of the 1.1-kilometer bridge between the western parts of Macao peninsula and Taipa island.
A. Jose Castanheira Lourenco, director of the Office for Development of Infrastructure, told the press that the project is expected to ease traffic congestion on the existing two bridges and address the demand of a growing number of people residing on Taipa island.
The most striking difference between the third bridge, which will open to traffic around the clock, and the current ones is that the new bridge will have two floors - the lower floor will be shut down in common days and open only when typhoon hits the city and a light rail is also projected to pass through it.
With six lanes on the upper floor, the third bridge is the widest.
Lourenco said a government committee will scrutinize all the bidding papers and make a decision not solely upon the price tags the companies have offered.
The project will also promote expansion of the city's long- suffering construction sector and ease unemployment pressure, the authorities said, adding that priority will be given on employment of local workers.
The Macao peninsula and Taipa island were first linked by a two- lane bridge in 1974, greatly boosting the development of the island.
But the bridge found it increasingly difficult to undertake mounting traffic in the coming decade, prompting the second cross- sea bridge to build in 1994.
The bridges have upgraded the image of the city that depends heavily on the tourism and gambling industries.
At present, the majority of Macao residents still live on the peninsula, while Taipa island accommodates the Macao International Airport, University of Macao, a large stadium, a horse-racing ground, three casinos and several residential quarters.
(China Daily June 15, 2002)