The largest bridge over the sea in the world, 55 kilometers long, which will link the cities of Hong Kong , Zhuhai and Macao will be inaugurated on Tuesday in China at a ceremony attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The bridge, one of China’s most ambitious projects to date, will reduce the distance between the three cities from more than 3 hours to about 30 minutes, which will facilitate the flow of passengers and tourists through the region.
This macro project marks a new milestone in Beijing’s attempt to promote economic integration between Hong Kong and the southern cities of China, an area known as the great bay of the Pearl River Delta, which the Government wants to turn into a technological economic center that compete with Silicon Valley.
The independent newspaper South China Morning Post assures that Xi will attend the inauguration of this colossal work in the city of Zhuhai, although its presence has not been confirmed officially.
The same newspaper warned that Xi probably will not cross the bridge to Hong Kong, where the construction of the section of the bridge in the British excolony aroused political and social unrest at various times of its construction.
The bridge will open to traffic on Wednesday at 09.00 (0100 GMT) after almost nine years of work and several delays in its opening, originally scheduled for 2016.
In the construction of the 55 kilometers of this bridge, giant pillars have been erected so that they can navigate the lower reaches below, two artificial islands and 6.7 kilometers of underwater tunnels.
In total, 400,000 tons of steel have been used , 60 times those used to build the Eiffel Tower , in addition to more than one million cubic meters of concrete.
The work, with a cost of more than 16,000 million euros, has been financed by the Chinese, Hong Kong and Macao governments and numerous technical difficulties have delayed the project.
Due to the fact that it has been carried out in one of the maritime zones with the highest cargo traffic in southern China, tunnels under the sea have had to be built in an area subject to strong currents and typhoons during the summer, which are connected to the bridge through two artificial islands.
Work accidents and ecological damage
The political opposition and environmental organizations, on the other hand, have thrown strong criticism on the project, considering that it has seriously reduced the habitat of marine species such as the Chinese white dolphin, which has practically disappeared from the area.
In addition, according to the Association for the Rights of Victims of Occupational Accidents, ten workers died and more than 600 were injured while working on the construction of the bridge over these eight years.
The most critical consider that the traffic on the bridge will not reach the predicted calculations of 29,100 vehicles circulating daily by 2030, especially from Hong Kong and Macao, in favor of severely restricting the number and type of vehicles entering their territories, of by themselves small and crowded with people.