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The longest sea-crossing bridge ever built is set to open this week, nine years after construction.
The 34-mile bridge connects Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai. CNN reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping and top officials from Hong Kong and Macau are expected to attend a ceremony in Zhuhai on Tuesday, and the bridge will be open to the public on Wednesday.
The $20-billion bridge was originally planned to open in 2016, but several delays pushed the due date back to 2018. The bridge is located next to the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and will provide access between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. It is also the first land transport link between Hong Kong and Macao.
Secretary for Transport and Housing, Frank Chan, believes this bridge will help Hong Kong serve as regional aviation and logistics hub. Chan said Friday that traveling between Zhuhai and Hong Kong International Airport typically takes four hours, but the bridge will shorten the trip by 45 minutes. Similarly, travel time between Zhuhai and Kwai Tsing Container Terminal will be reduced from 3.5 hours to an hour and 15 minutes.
“In light of the development of the Greater Bay Area, the Bridge will be instrumental in enhancing the flow of people, goods and capital, as well as technological collaboration within the region,” Chan said. “The Government will closely monitor the utilization rate of the Bridge and actively explore measures in conjunction with our counterparts with a view to optimizing the utilization and benefits of the Bridge.”
On the other hand, the bridge has received a lot of criticism. According to CNN, some Hong Kong critics say there was little public demand for more links to Macau or Zhuhai and that the bridge could cause the city to be overloaded with tourists from mainland China.
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