Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Chinese|t=港珠澳大橋|s=港珠澳大桥|p=Gǎngzhū'ào Dàqiáo|j=gong2 jyu1 ou3 daai6 kiu4
Lantau Island

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is a proposed series of bridges and tunnels that would connect the west side of Hong Kong with Macau and the neighbouring city of Zhuhai, situated on the west side of the Pearl River Delta, and part of mainland China's southern industrial powerhouse.

The proposed 29 kilometre (18 mile) bridge is expected to cost US $2 billion to $3.7 billion.

With its length, it would probably become one of the landmarks within the area; it is comparable with the world's longest bridge, the Second Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the United States, which is convert|38.4|km|mi|0 long (according to the Guinness Book of World Records).


In 1982, the rapid growth and demand of cross-border traffic prompted an agreement between the Hong Kong Government and the Shenzhen authorities. This agreement suggested an improvement of connections by opening up new road links. Also proposed was the construction of a footbridge at Lo Wu, introduction of ferry services, and enhancement of inspection facilities and services at exit and entry points.

Currently there are four major border crossings connecting Hong Kong and Shenzhen:

#Man Kam To crossing provides the most direct access to the Shenzhen city centre
#Sha Tau Kok crossing connects Hong Kong with east Shenzhen
#Lok Ma Chau crossing provides a link to west Shenzhen
#Lo Wu crossing provides rail connection between Hong Kong and central Shenzhen for passengers only. The number of passengers can reach up to 400,000 during peak hours, often at the beginning or the end of a long holiday period.

Continuous expansion works have been done at these three crossings to meet the increasing demand for passenger handling capacity. Additionally, those who are granted special permission and licenses prefer to drive across the border in order to avoid the high flow of travellers at those three gateways.

Lo Wu is still the main node linking Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Railway to the Lo Wu crossing receives much traffic from the towns. Everyday, millions of rail users pass by Lo Wu en route to Shenzhen. In order to cope with the vast amount of cross-border traffic, a gradual extension of the opening hours and series of improvement works at the Terminal have been initiated.

In order to provide long-term relief to the congestion at Lo Wu, various projects have been approved and endorsed. The Hong Kong Government and the relevant Mainland authorities have identified the need to open new border crossings. At the third meeting of the Mainland/Hong Kong Conference on the Co-ordination of Major Infrastructure Projects (the Conference) held on 20 September 2002, it was agreed that a joint study should be conducted on the transport linkage between Hong Kong and Pearl River West.

An important study was completed by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Hong Kong Government on the transport linkage between Hong Kong and the western bank of the Pearl River Delta. The study points out that a bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau will provide significant macro socio-economic benefits for the Greater Pearl River Delta Region including Hong Kong. Governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau were authorized by the Chinese authorities to set up the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group to follow up the project. There will be intensive studies on the hydrology, environmental protection, economic benefits, routing, passenger and freight traffic flow of the bridge.

The study analyses the current situation of transport linkage between Hong Kong, Macau and Pearl River West, existing problems and deficiencies; it also forecasts the passenger and freight traffic flow between Hong Kong and Pearl River West. The report points out that the current transport linkage between Pearl River West and Hong Kong is weak and land transport involves a detour via Human Bridge resulting in an increase in transport time and cost. The report also predicts the passenger traffic flow between the eastern and western banks of the Greater Pearl River Delta (PRD) in 2020 will reach 180-240 million and freight traffic 169–220 million tonnes. Of these traffic volumes, the passenger and freight traffic flow between Hong Kong and the western bank of the PRD will significantly increase. An increase of the passenger flow of the Bridge and cargo demand are also anticipated.

The study has considered three alignments linking the two banks of Pearl River. Fieldwork and seminars have been conducted, and views and analyses from various sources have been taken into consideration. The result of the study is that the Hong Kong (Lantau)-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge proposed by the HKSAR Government, a link connecting the three places under the "one country two systems", is the most urgent one and bears significant political and economic implications.

The study points out that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will alter the present passive condition of the transport linkage between Hong Kong and Pearl River West which relies mainly on water transport. It will shorten the distance from Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai from 60 km to 30 km, and reduce the journey time to within half an hour. As a result, Pearl River West will lie within the 3-hour transport network that radiates from Hong Kong as its centre.

Participation of Gordon Wu

Gordon Wu, the chairman of Hong Kong-listed Hopewell Holdings Ltd has advocated the project for 20 years.

Wu has used Hopewell since the 1980s to develop his vision of creating a world-class transport system for China's manufacturing powerhouse in the Pearl River Delta, which includes Hong Kong and many parts of Guangdong province.

Hopewell Highway Infrastructure Ltd, the highway unit of the Hong Kong conglomerate Hopewell Holdings Ltd was spun off and listed in Hong Kong on August 6th 2003, and hopes to make a bid for a stake in the project.

Hopewell Holdings, which hopes to take a 50 percent stake in the project, raised HK$3.01 billion (US$386 million) through an initial public offering and its shares are expected to surge if the bridge project is confirmed.


In order to coordinate the project, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group was established in 2003. In the second meeting, officials from three sides decided to set up an office specifically in Guangzhou to do the work of the group and appointed a design institute in the Mainland to conduct the feasibility study and produce a report on landing points for the bridge. The landing points are still being studied and factors such as economic effectiveness and environmental issues will determine where they are.

For the part of the bridge that is situated in Hong Kong, the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau plans to seek $59 million from the Legislative Council's public works subcommittee for investigations and preliminary design work.

Preliminary design work on the proposed Y-shaped bridge is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.


; 1983 : Gordon Wu proposed the idea of the bridge.; 2002 : Zhu Rongji, the Premier at that time, showed support of Wu's idea.; 2003 : The Chinese government showed support of the idea.; 2003 (July) : Donald Tsang, the Chief Secretary for Administration of HKSAR, went to Beijing to meet with the Chinese government about the bridge.; 2003 (August) : The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Advance Work Coordination Group was established.; 2006 (July) :

Impacts and influences


Advocates suggest that by slashing travel times between the eastern and western banks of the Pearl River delta, parts of less-developed southern China will gain improved access to global markets through Hong Kong. In addition, it is said that Hong Kong will benefit from this project in the long term, through the enhanced flow of labour, goods and capital between China and the rest of the world.

The concept of this project is similar to that of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia, United States. An undersea tunnel will become a portion of the whole infrastructure in order to allow large container vessels to pass.

The 29-km span would make it one of the world's longest bridges and is expected to reduce travelling times between Hong Kong and Zhuhai or Macau to approximately 40 minutes; down from 4.5 hours (by road) at present.

Although this project is supported by the general publicFact|date=September 2008, there are some potential drawbacks. Some scholars pointed out that Hong Kong and Macau will become direct competitors for Mainland Chinese tourists. While Macau generally attracts a different market from Hong Kong, with the bridge, tourists from Mainland China can bypass Hong Kong and thus Hong Kong will no longer act as a conduit for visitors to Macau. This may possibly have a profound effect on Hong Kong's tourism industry - an industry that depends significantly on stopover visitors.

Nonetheless, differences in opinions exist: While the bridge will make Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau more accessible, the degree to which it will make the area more attractive as a whole for tourists will vary. In particular, a rail link was seen as important for boosting the local tourism industry - something that is very unlikely to be realized.

In the meantime, the construction of the bridge will give a boost to the construction industry, which may help alleviate unemployment and underemployment, which can, in turn, boost the region's economy.

ocio-economic effects

It seems that Hong Kong will benefit from the following aspects with the construction of the proposed bridge:

*Alleviating congestion in existing cross-border checkpoints
*Encouraging deeper economic integration between Hong Kong and Pearl River Delta Region (PRD)
*Promoting the socio-economic development of the Pearl River West
*Strengthening Hong Kong's position as the logistics centre
*Facilitating development of tourism industry in PRD
*Creating more employment opportunities
*Making use of investment from private sector
*Perfecting the regional transport network

The bridge will benefit the economic development of the whole of the Delta. For Hong Kong, the project will enable the city to continue its status as an international aviation and shipping centre. The Bridge will also help realise the strategic benefits of promoting the socio-economic development of the western Pearl River. In linking up Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, the bridge will form a systematic regional transport network and provide an overland link. This link will substantially shorten the travelling time between the eastern and western sides of the southern tip of the PRD. Faster economic integration between Hong Kong and the region is expected with the increasing flows of people, goods and even capital. With closer economic tie between Hong Kong and its neighbouring region, Hong Kong can assume a leading role in driving the economic development in South China.

Chinese and Hong Kong leaders are able to hammer out the plans for a giant bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland China and Macau, a US$2 billion project driven by Beijing's desire to show the territory can thrive under its rule.The urgency Beijing has placed on the 29 kilometer-long bridge and quicker economic integration between Hong Kong and China was triggered by a July 1, 2003 protest march when half a million Hong Kongers took to the streets to express their discontent with government. In promoting the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and closer cross-border economic ties, Beijing is throwing a lifeline to economically battered Hong Kong.

The bridge is the second major high-profile project between China and Hong Kong between June and August, 2003. In late June 2003, the two signed a free trade pact - a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement or called CEPA, further opening China to Hong Kong companies.

Tourism industry

Different opinions are said about the impact of the bridge on the tourism industry in Hong Kong. Some think the bridge will be a boost to the local tourism industry especially if the bridge contains a rail link, which will increase the capacity of passenger travel across the bridge. The bridge will provide tourists with the opportunity of visiting Macau and the western part of the PRD by road or by rail on top of visiting Hong Kong. The new multi-destination itineraries will definitely enhance the tourist experience in the region. As a matter of fact, this has been a strong selling point for Hong Kong's tourism promotion.

Another advantage is that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau link will also encourage more Macau and PRD residents to visit Hong Kong and shop there. The growing number of these inbound visitors will give a further boost to the local tourism industry and their spending will be a boost to economy as well.

Alternatively, some see the bridge as a hazard to Hong Kong's tourism industry as they believe that with the new bridge there will be fewer people traveling to Mainland China or Macau via Hong Kong. Since tourism plays an important role in generating revenue for Hong Kong, a loss of tourists will directly affect other sectors in Hong Kong.


As Hong Kong enjoys a number of competitive advantages in developing its logistics industry, namely, excellent infrastructure and telecommunications facilities, well-established financial and legal systems, very good international connections and a free market. To strengthen its position as a transportation hub in the region, the HKSAR government has indicated its intention to develop Nansha as a logistics base while the Airport Authority is having closer cooperation with the Zhuhai airport.

Their strategy in lining up with these cities located in the west side of the PRD will be best served by the bridge. It will link Hong Kong to the west side of the PRD and hook it up with the ever-expanding network of expressways in China. With the presence of better transportation network, Hong Kong’s logistics industry will not only be able to get more business in the PRD but also extend their services into the inland areas of the Mainland including the resource-rich Sichuan Province. Hence, Hong Kong will become an important logistics centre for the whole country.

With the bridge in place, Hong Kong can make avail itself of the Central Government’s ‘Go West’ Development plan to turn itself into a transportation hub to the western region. It has hence within its reach a hinterland with abundant natural resources and a potential market made up of a huge population with growing affluence.


The increasing integration of Hong Kong with the Pearl River Delta Region brings about an increasing economic development and cooperation within this region. It is recognized that the need for such integration may lead to greater economic prosperity, but at the same time, because there will be an inevitably increasing demand for infrastructure development to support this economic growth in this region, an unsustainable plan which only focuses on short-term gain without environmental consideration within the whole context could result in long-term degradation of the natural environment and development which are both unsustainable and irreversible.

This project will affect the natural habitats of the three regions. Caution should be taken in the choices of machines in order to minimize unwanted sediments spread resulting from dredging operations. If not taken care of, this could have a profound effect on the breeding and feeding patterns of the Chinese white dolphins, which are treasured since there are not many of them in Hong Kong. Therefore, authorities from three sides have proposed that a detailed study be conducted on the impacts of the project on the habitats of rare tree frogs, horseshoe crabs and Chinese white dolphins. Loud noise produced during construction would seriously affect the abililty of Dolphin's sonar navigation. Immune system of the dolphins would be impaired by potential disturbance of the seabed which may contain contaminated mud, increasing their risk to diseases. Dredging works could increase the risk of collision with the dolphins resulting in injuries and possible death.

According to World Wildlife Fund Hong Kong, there are three concerns relating to the Bridge:

1. The potential impacts of the Bridge on the environment could be both natural and physical. For instance, water quality, the hydrodynamic regime of the Pearl River Estuary and sensitive habitats such as seagrass beds, mangroves, and natural intertidal, brackish marsh, and terrestrial habitats such as Fung Shui woodlands.

- During construction, contaminated runoff spills would occur. Also during the building stage of the bridge, piers would be built, and it would reduce the water flow area and hence the water quality may be affected.

- Increased vehicle transportation would inevitably worsen the already bad air quality in the region. Furthermore, these are home to many rare plants and animal species such as Crested Kingfishers, Mangrove Water Snakes, Rough-skinned Floating Frog, and the rare native rhododendron.

2. The whole process will be "fast-tracked" if the project commences with urgency, which may result in a failure in a proper environmental assessment. "Fast-tracking" can result in compromising the environment and/or increased financial cost for the project. In order to meet the targeted opening date of the project, a full environmental assessment may be set aside. A comprehensive assessment and addressing risk factor would at the very least allow the full cost to be factored into the decision-making process.

3. Since there are distinct differences between the Mainland and Hong Kong systems in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, criteria and standards, decision-making processes would become difficult and controversial.

In addition, there are also other environmental impacts during the construction of the Bridge:

4. "Noise":

Construction work like road pavement construction, piling works and concreting will generate noise. Noise can also be caused by dredging works. Since there will be lots of goods vehicles and buses, the traffic using the highway would also be one of the noise sources. Hence, silence is disrupted due to all sources of noise.

5. "Heritage":

Area near the construction site where there are archaeological interest and potential offshore marine deposits that have not been investigated or adequately studied previously, would be affected.

And the construction work may also cause direct or indirect impactson San Shek Wan, Ha Law Wan, Sha Lo Wan and Sha Lo Wan (West)archaeological sites and the items of historic interest in the villages at Sha LoWan and San Shek Wan. The construction work may also cause indirectimpacts on the Tung Chung Battery, where is a declared monument.

6. "Ecology":

Erosion of exposed earth and construction materials may cause subsequent sedimentation. Poor site controls would lead to toxic chemical pollution, such as alkaline slurry from concrete, oil, grease, etc.

When there is construction work at the bridge-land interface and piers at Lantau and the Airport Channel may increase the amount of sediments thatcould potentially affect the mangroves communities.

There may be loss of riparian vegetation in the streams and loss of vegetation scrublands at the landing point.

Cross-border checkpoints

The bridge will connect Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai, it will provide a direct link for passengers and freight traffic heading for the western part of the PRD. This will help alleviate the heavy congestion at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen cross-border checkpoints and reduce the economic losses arising from the daily hold-up at these border crossings. Although part of the equation for alleviating the congestion at the border hinges on better and more efficient arrangements in customs clearance and immigration control, an overland link to the west of the PRD will certainly relieve the pressure on existing border checkpoints.

Additional statistics about cross-border checkpoints in Hong Kong:

These checkpoints all connect Hong Kong to Shenzhen. As the table shows, there is only one checkpoint that operates 24-hour for both vehicular and passenger traffic. Moreover, there are no land connections to other parts of Guangdong Province making it rather inconvenient for those travelling to Zhuhai or Zhongshan directly west of Hong Kong across the Pearl River Delta.

Thus, most passengers use the many ferries that shuttle between the various ports at a frequency ranging from 10 minutes to every hour depending on demand and time of the day. However, such ferries do not run late at night nor carry vehicular traffic and are affected by inclement weather conditions such as strong typhoons during the summer months - making the case for the building of a bridge.

An alternative and perhaps more expensive method to travel to China and Macau would be by air. Both Shenzhen and Macau have opened up direct air routes to Hong Kong International Airport in the past decade. Several operators also offer helicopter flights between the cities. While the number of scheduled flights are limited, such aircraft can fly almost around the clock. However, the prohibitive costs make this a mode of transport for the very rich.

ee also

* Transportation in Hong Kong
* Transportation in Macau
* List of buildings and structures in Hong Kong
*Tunnels and bridges in Hong Kong
*List of streets and roads in Hong Kong#Bridges
* Ecology of Hong Kong
* Environment of China
*Lingdingyang Bridge

External links

* [http://jmsc.hku.hk/jmsc6030/bridgestory/dossier/map/ map] - click on a proposal to see it on the map
* [http://www.hyd.gov.hk/eng/major/road/projects/6787th/ Highway Department, Hong Kong] - with maps and status of the bridge
* [http://www.pearlriverdelta.org/flashed.html www.pearlriverdelta.org]
* [http://www.tdctrade.com/alert/calert/chc03085prd.htm www.tdctrade.com (中國商情快訊)]
* [http://jmsc.hku.hk/jmsc6030/bridgestory/ Pearl River Crossings - Bridging the Delta, Building the Future]
* [http://www.skyline-technologies.com/news/1003/231003.htm#1 Transport Advisory Committee briefed on HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge]
* [http://www.tdctrade.com/main/economic.htm Economic & Trade Information on Hong Kong]
* [http://www.etwb.gov.hk/about_us/welcome_message/index.aspx?langno=1&nodeid=28 The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, Hong Kong]
* [http://www.saveourshorelines.bizland.com/project03.html Save our Shoreline]

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