After a number of delays, China is preparing to open the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world.
Built at a cost of $20 (£1.5 / £1.7) billion, the massive bridge took nine years to construct and measures 22.1 miles (35.6 km) long from the “shore of northern Lantau to the western shore of Pearl River Estuary.” To put that number into perspective, the Mackinac Bridge is 5 miles (8 km) long while the Golden Gate Bridge spans 1.7 miles (2.7 km).
While a number of publications say the bridge is 34.1 miles (55 km) long, the website for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) says the main project only spans a total of approximately 26 miles (42 km). This figure also includes an underground tunnel which is approximately 4.1 miles (6.7 km) long and allows ships to easily pass over the roadway.
The HZMB connects Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland city of Zhuhai. The bridge will be opened on October 24th and it promises to significantly reduce travel times between the three cities. According to the government of Hong Kong, trips between Zhuhai and the Hong Kong International Airport will be slashed from four hours to just 45 minutes.
The bridge has been designed to last 120 years and it features ultra-strong construction to withstand frequent typhoons. Since the bridge is located near the Hong Kong International Airport, it also had to comply with height restrictions to ensure it didn’t interfere with air traffic.
Interestingly, CNN reports that most people won’t be able to drive on the bridge. Instead, a majority of traffic will come from shuttle buses or “special hire cars.” A handful of citizens will be allowed to drive on the bridge, but they’ll need a special permit in order to do so.