The bridge of all bridges recently opened this past month, connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai And Macau in China. The bridge, which is reportedly 34 miles long, is now considered the longest sea-crossing in the world, beating out the English Channel from Dover to Calais by 14 miles.
The bridge is made of 420,000 tons of steel–which is 60 times the amount of steel used to build the Eiffel Tower, and features both an oversea bridge and an undersea tunnel, which is perfect for those of us who are less daring and wish to see the modern marvel from the safety of the….underground? The bridge and undersea tunnels are connected by two man-made islands.
The bridge is proposed to play a key role in China’s plans for expanding its trade within the Greater Bay Area, as it spans the length of 11 cities, including Hong Kong and Macau, covers 21,800 square miles and encompasses approximately 68 million people.
Officials guestimate that the bridge will cut the travel time between Hong Kong and Macau by more than 60 percent, from approximately three hours to just 30 to 45 minutes.
The Bridge Draws A Good Deal Of Criticism
Though a site certainly worth beholding, it must be noted that the bridge wasn’t built without a significant amount of controversy. Though figures are shaky, it is guesstimated that the bridge cost approximately $20 billion to build–$20 billion which was mostly funded by public tax dollars. However, despite the public’s significant contribution, the bridge will only be open to certain members of the public who have special permits.
All others who wish to cross the bridge must park at the Hong Kong port and switch to a shuttle bus or private car once they go through immigration. A ticket on the shuttle bus costs approximately $8 to $10 for a one-way trip, depending on the time of day.
Not only that, but much of Hong Kong despaired the development of the bridge, fearing that it would bring in even more unwanted tourists. As of right now, the already overcrowded city sees an average of 56 million tourists each year, 20 million more than the UK. Residents fear that the bridge will draw in even more tourists, as it provides a shorter route and cheap way for those far from the mainland to visit the metropolis on a day-trip basis.
Another reason Hong Kong residents are so opposed to the bridge is because the city itself is in dire need of housing, and its poverty levels are on the steady incline. “Hong Kong has had to fund a lot of the bridge, but we won’t see many benefits here,” says just one of many critics of the bridge.
Criticism Aside, The Bridge Does Demonstrate An Amazing Engineering Feat
Though the bridge has been met with considerable controversy, has undergone several delays, went far over budget and resulted in the deaths of at least seven workers (an additional 275 were injured), it is undeniably an amazing feat of engineering. The bridge was built to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake, a super typhoon and strikes by super-sized cargo vessels. It is comprised of more than 400,000 tons of steel–estimates guess it’s in the ballpark of 420,000 tons–4.5 times the amount of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
The bridge also includes a fairly impressive 4-mile submerged tunnel, designed to help the bridge avoid the busy shipping paths over the Pearl River Delta. The tunnel is connected by two artificial islands, both of which are approximately 100,000 square meters and situated in shallow waters (at least, shallow for being in the center of the sea).
Again, however, the impressiveness of the bridge is overshadowed by what it’s taken away. In addition to Hong Kong’s reprieve from mainlanders, the bridge has also taken away the home of the endangered Chinese white dolphin population, which makes home in the Pearl River Delta.
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