The Hong Kong section of the bridge that will link the city to Zhuhai and Macau is on track to be completed by the end of the year. Three sections of a 12km highway that will lead to the bridge will also be fully connected this month.
The Highways Department put out a statement last Thursday saying the connection is a milestone in the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project. The project has been hit by delays, high costs, and tragedies.
Two workers were killed and three others injured last month when a platform they were taking apart under a viaduct outside Tai O suddenly collapsed.
Ten workers have died since construction began in 2011, and more than 600 have been injured while building the bridge. There have been a total of 275 incidents.
Albert Lee Wai-bun, the Highways Department’s project manager for the Hong Kong section, told lawmakers at a Legislative Council panel meeting on Wednesday that the government would never put deadlines ahead of the safety of workers. “We’ll never sacrifice construction safety for deadlines,” he said.
It was also revealed that the main section of the bridge over Lingdingyang waters in the Pearl River Estuary had overrun its budget, and the additional cost would have to be split between the three governments of Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau. All three jurisdictions have yet to work out an opening date for the bridge.
Reporting on the progress of the Hong Kong section, the government said the HK$25-billion highway, called the Hong Kong Link Road (which will connect the main bridge in mainland waters to the city’s boundary crossing facilities on an artificial island at Chek Lap Kok) would be fully affixed by next week.
“The Highways Department is confident that the Hong Kong section of the bridge project will be finished by the end of this year and will be ready for opening,” it said.
The project involves the construction of a dual three-lane carriageway over a 12km stretch, comprising a 1km-long tunnel at Scenic Hill, a 9.4km viaduct section and a 1.6km road section on reclaimed land linking the immigration facilities.
The department said construction staff were currently fitting the last of the precast tunnel liner segments into the Scenic Hill tunnel. The segment weighs 5,000 tonnes – that’s as heavy as 27 Boeing 747 planes put together.
“This final procedure is expected to be finished by next week, marking the complete connection of the Hong Kong Link Road,” it said.
The Hong Kong part of the bridge, which is costing over HK$110 billion, was delayed for a year to the end of this year amid a string of construction obstacles.