Hong Kong has started construction of the world’s longest sea bridge at an estimated cost of $11bn, linking the city with Macao and Zhuhai, after long delays following legal disputes over its environmental impact.

Construction is now underway however on the the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which will span 29.6km and include Hong Kong boundary crossing facilities, the Hong Kong Link Road, as well as the detailed design of Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link and Tuen Mun Western Bypass.

Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang said Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was the first major cross-boundary infrastructure project jointly undertaken by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.

"With the active participation and involvement of the three governments, a consensus was reached on construction, financing and operation of the project beneficial to all the concerned parties," he said.

Construction started on the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF), which is estimated to cost HK$30.43bn ($3.9bn).

HKBCF will feature a comprehensive road system, connecting Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and Tung Chung New Town, as well as have a strategic road network leading to the Northwest New Territories and other areas of Hong Kong.

Boundary crossing facilities are the major part of the project on the Hong Kong side and the facilities will be built on an artificial island spread across a 150ha area in the waters north east of Hong Kong International Airport.

Cmpletion of the bridge will improve traffic connections between Hong Kong and the Mainland, as well as reducing commuting time to Western Pearl River Delta to three hours.

Commuting time will decrease by 60% to 80%, as well as transportation costs also going down.

"This will provide impetus to Hong Kong’s long-term economic development and bring new opportunities to various sectors of Hong Kong, including the tourism, financial, trading, as well commercial and logistics industries," Tsang said.

Construction on the Hong Kong section was originally planned in late 2010, but it was delayed due to judicial review, however the Hong Kong Government says the main bridge will be completed in 2016.

Construction started in December 2009 at the Zhuhai section of the bridge.