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Introduction to Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
Edit:港珠澳大桥    Date:2009-06-08    Reading:214528

I.          Project Background

Since the 1980s, significant progress has been made in developing transportation links from Hong Kong and Macao to mainland China, especially the direct vehicular route between Hong Kong and the eastern bank of the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong province, which has strongly promoted and ensured mutual economic growth in the region. However, the transportation links between Hong Kong and the western bank of the Pearl River Delta region were underdeveloped and insufficient to meet the regional transportation needs. After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, to revitalize the economy and seek new points for economic growth, the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) deemed it necessary to build a sea crossing linking the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region and Zhuhai City of Guangdong Province, so as to exploit the advantages of Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR and therefore proposed the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) to the Central Government in 2002.
In July 2003, research jointly sponsored by the National Development and Reform Commission of China and the government of Hong Kong SAR on “Transport Links between Hong Kong and the West Bank of the Pearl River ” was completed. The results showed that the construction of the bridge connecting the three places is of great political and economic importance, and should be arranged as soon as possible.
In August 2003, the State Council approved the starting of preliminary work for the HZMB, and agreed to establish the Advanced Work Coordination Group (AWCG) of HZMB, which consisted of government representatives of Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macao SAR, with Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government as the convener. In March 2004, the Administrative Office of HZMB Advanced Work Coordination Group was established, and the preparatory work of the HZMB project was commenced on full scale.
In December 2006, the State Council approved the establishment of a Special Taskforce for the HZMB led by the National Development and Reform Commission, to be in charge of the coordination of important and critical issues in order to further accelerate the preliminary work.
Over the last six years, the Special Taskforce and the Advanced Work Coordination Group have been making significant progress with devoted attention and support from the Central Government and the joint efforts of the three regional governments. Major issues such as the landing points of the bridge, the bridge alignment across the Pearl River, the technical alternatives and the operation of the BCF as well as project financing have been resolved in order to pave the way for smooth development of the preliminary work.
II.      The significance and necessity of the construction of HZMB
Based on the planning of the national highway network, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will connect Hong Kong on the east bank of the Pearl River Delta to Zhuhai and Macao on the west bank.,It will provide a significant part ofthe Pearl River Delta regional transportation loop - being a key new highway transport corridor crossing the Lingdingyang and connecting the east and west banks of the Pearl River.
The Pearl River Delta is seen as a pioneering region for China’s Reform and Opening-up Policy and an economic center of great importance. Taking advantage of the proximity of Hong Kong and Macao, the Pearl River Delta plays a leading role and has a significant strategic status in China’s Reform and Opening-up as well as its economic and social development. The development gap between the east and west coasts of the Pearl River has widened during the recent period of rapid development of Pearl River Delta, with the economic development of west coast evidently lagging behind that of the east coast. The lack of convenient transportation with Hong Kong SAR is an important reason. Obstructed by the Pearl River, overland transport has to detour through the Humen Bridge, while the transportation by water is time-consuming and vulnerable to weather conditions. The current transport infrastructure cannot meet the demands of the economic and social development and transportation between the east and west bank of Pearl River.
Hong Kong is an important international economic, financial, commercial and shipping center, and has a significant radiating and gathering effect on the adjacent regions. At the same time Hong Kong itself relies on the abundant resources of the adjacent regions. Since the Reform and Opening-up, the economic connection between Hong Kong and the east coast of Pearl River has become increasingly close. Hong Kong maintains continuing prosperity and the east coast of Pearl River takes the lead in the establishment of an open economic system, and has become the economic region having the highest export-orientation. As such it is of great importance in China’s Reform and Opening-up. Financing, insurance and tourism are Macao’s pillar industries. The long-standing industrial division and social pattern between Macao and Hong Kong forms a close link between the two regions’ economy and society. Constructing the transport corridor between Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao to enhance the economic radiating effect of Hong Kong and east coast of Pearl River, to fully exploit the development potentiality of the west coast of Pearl River and to facilitate the communications between Hong Kong, Macao and the east and west coasts of the Pearl River has become a common wish of Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao.
To sum up, the construction of the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge is both essential and urgent in order to coordinate and fully develop/interlink the National comprehensive transportation expressway network with the networks of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao; to establish a closer economic and social connection between the West coast of the Pearl River and Hong Kong;  to improve the investment environment of Pearl River’s West coast; to speed up the adjustment and optimization of the industrial layout; to widen the area of economic development; to enhance the comprehensive competitiveness of the Pearl Delta; to maintain the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao, and to coordinate the social and economic development between the East and West coasts of the Pearl River..
III. General situation and Major Contents   
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge consists of three major parts;_the Offshore Bridge and Tunnel; the Boundary Crossing Facilitates (BCF) at Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao; and the Link Roads in these three regions. It has been mutually agreed that the offshore bridge and tunnel within mainland Chinese territory (from the Guangdong/Hong Kong border to the BCFs of Zhuhai and Macao) will be built jointly by the three regional governments, and the remaining section in Hong Kong territory (from San Shek Wan in Hong Kong to the Guangdong/Hong Kong border) will be built by the Hong Kong Government. The BCFs of the three regions and their link roads will be built independently by each jurisdiction.
The Offshore bridge and tunnel will follow a route from San Shek Wan to Zhuhai Gongbei / Macao Pearl, starting from San Shek Wan on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, connecting to the BCF in Hong Kong, passing through Hong Kong waters, then continuing to the west along the north side of the 23DY anchorage, before crossing several navigation channels (Tonggu Channel, Lingding West Channel, Qingzhou Channel and Jiuzhou Channel) to complete at the artificial islands of Zhuhai and Macao BCFs. The total length of the crossing is about 35.6km, of which 6km is in Hong Kong territory and 29.6km is in the territory of Guangdong. A scheme using a bridge and tunnel combination has been adopted for this main part of the project; the tunnel section is approximately 6.7km long across the Lingding West Channel and Tonggu Channel, and the bridge section is about 22.9 km. For the transitions of the bridge to tunnel sections and to accommodate the tunnel ventilation shafts, artificial islands are being built at each end of the tunnel. The east edge of the east artificial island is 150m from the Hong Kong border, and the east edge of the west artificial island is 1800m from the Lingding West Channel. The minimum edge to edge distance between the artificial islands is approximately 5250m.
The bridge and tunnel section provides a dual 3-lane carriageway with a design speed of 100 km/h. The total bridge width is 33.1m, with the tunnel width of 2×14.25m and a vertical clearance of 5.1 meters. The design live load for the bridge complies with both China’s Highway Class I for Bridge Design Vehicle Loads, and the live load provisions in the Design Manual for Roads and Railways of Hong Kong. The designed service life of the bridge is 120 years. The remaining technical standards adopted are in accordance with Highway Technical Standard (JTGB01-2003) issued by the Ministry of Transport of China. Navigation standards are in accordance with the statement of Navigation Clearance and Technical Demands of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (JSF [2008] No.97) by Ministry of Transport of China.
The BCFs will be built independently and administered by the local authorities of the three governments in a format of “Three regions, Three Custom Inspections”. The BCF for Hong Kong will be located in Hong Kong. The BCFs for the mainland (Zhuhai) and Macao will be co-located on an artificial island in mainland waters adjacent to Mingzhu, Macao. The reclaimed land of 208.87 hectares for this artificial island consists of four distinct areas,the administration facilities of HZMB; the connecting area in Zhuhai; the Zhuhai BCF administrative area and the Macao BCF administrative area.
The link road to Zhuhai starts at the Zhuhai BCF on Zhuhai -Macao artificial island, passes Wan Chai and the north side of Zhuhai Free Trade Zone. and ends at Hong Wan in Zhuhai. It will then connect to a proposed 13.4km highway, to form the Pearl River Delta regional loop, from Nanping in Zhuhai to Hong Wan. The link road will be constructed to two-way six-lane expressway standard, with the design speed of 80 km/h, the roadbed width of 32 m, the total bridge width of 31.5 m and tunnel width of 2×14 meters. The designed load rating for vehicle will be Highway- Grade I, and the remaining technical standards adopted will be in accordance with Highway Technical Standard (JTGB01-2003) issued by the Ministry of Transport.
IV. Financing of the Main Offshore work of the Bridge and Tunnel.
The main offshore work of the bridge and tunnel which will be built jointly by the three regional governments, will cost about RMB 38.1 billion (according to the Ministry of Transport statement following the preliminary design of the main works.). The total capital investment in the project will be RMB 15.73 billion (being approximately 45.3% of the estimated total cost). The Mainland, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR will contribute RMB 7 billion, RMB 6.75 billion and RMB 1.98 billion respectively. The remainder will be financed by the legal authority (Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority) through syndicated loans according to the applicable laws of mainland.China.
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