The 29.6km-long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZMB) was inaugurated in October 2018. Measuring 55km-long, including connecting roads, it is the world’s longest sea bridge. It connects the west side of Hong Kong to Macau and the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong province.

The bridge significantly reduces travel time between Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai and is expected to be economically beneficial to the three regions.

The preliminary design of the main bridge began in March 2009. Construction started in December 2009 and was completed in February 2018.

The total cost of the project was RMB120bn ($17.3bn), while $87m in funding was sanctioned for preliminary design and site investigation and $47m for the preconstruction works initially.

Hong Kong Legislative Council approved an additional HK$8.8bn ($1.1bn) for the project in April 2012.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project details

The project included the construction of HKZMB, Hong Kong boundary crossing facilities (HKBCF), and a Hong Kong Link Road (HKLR). It also included related infrastructure development such as environmental protection, landscaping and drainage works, street lighting, traffic control, and surveillance systems.

The HKZMB’s main bridge extends for 29.6km, crossing from east to west of the Pearl River. Forming a bridge-cum-tunnel structure, the bridge comprises a double three-track carriageway. It lands on two artificial islands created on the east and west of the Hong Kong special administrative region.

For providing cargo processing and passengers clearance facilities at the Hong Kong boundary, approximately 130ha of land was procured at the north-eastern coast of the airport island. The HKBCF include kiosks, goods inspection platforms and X-ray buildings that will assist in processing cargo.

Buildings for passenger clearance were constructed, while kiosks were installed for screening private cars and coaches. The boundary-crossing facilities also include frontline offices for government departments, such as immigration and excise. A provision has been made for road networks, switching public transports, and a drop and pick-up area of transport.

The HKBCF is connected with the main bridge through the 12km-long Hong Kong link road (HKLR). The HKLR is a dual three-track carriageway that connects the west boundary of the HK administrative region to the HKBCF, through the North Lantau and the airport channel.

It is aligned in the form of a 9.3km-long sea viaduct, comprising a number of arches supported by piers. The link road is designed to support a vehicle speed of 100km/h. Construction commenced in 2011 and was completed at the end of 2017.

Tunnels forming part of the Chinese infrastructure project

The bridge consists of a series of tunnels, including a 6.7km-long underwater tunnel that was constructed to link the two artificial islands created for the landing of the main bridge.

The HKLR also has a 1.1km-long tunnel section that passes through the mountains and the airport before connecting to a 1.6km grade road along the eastern coast of the airport island.

Contractors involved with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge development

The preliminary design works of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge were undertaken by a consortium led by China Highway Planning and Design Institute (HPDI). Other parties in the consortium include COWI, Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong, and Shanghai Tunnel Engineering & Rail Transit Design and Research Institute.

Consultants for the project included Mott MacDonald, China Zhongtie Major Bridge Reconnaissance & Design Institute joint venture (JV), China Highway Planning and Design Institute Consultants Joint Venture, and RIOH Transport Consultants.

The major contractors involved with the project were China Communications Construction Company-led JV, China Railway Shanhaiguan Bridge Group, WuChang Shipyard Heavy Engineering, CCCC First Harbour Engineering Company, Guangdong Provincial ChangDa Highway Engineering, and China Zhongtie Major Bridge Engineering Group.

TISCO was awarded a contract in January 2013 for supplying the self-developed duplex stainless steel rebars (DSSR) for the HKZMB.

Financing for the world’s longest sea bridge

The bridge construction was financed jointly by the government and loans. The governments of China, Hong Kong and Macau together contributed RMB15.73bn ($2.3bn). The contribution of the Chinese Central Government was RMB7bn ($1.02bn), while Hong Kong and Macau respectively provided RMB6.75bn ($987m) and RMB1.98bn ($289m).

The remaining costs were funded through a loan from the Bank of China. The Bank of China led a financial consortium formed along with the banks of Hong Kong and Macau. The Bank of China provided an RMB22bn ($3.21bn) loan to construct the main body of HKZMB.

The construction cost of the HKZMB’s main bridge was increased by RMB9.95bn ($1.55bn) to RMB48.068bn ($7.52bn) due to the rising costs of labour and material, as well as fad design and construction trends. The incremental cost was financed jointly by the three governments and through bank loans.