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BBC News | 1:12
THE bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai in mainland China finally opened to traffic earlier this week.
The project broke ground in 2009 and was originally supposed to open in 2016.
Since works commenced, the scheme's initial USD $10.6BN budget has almost doubled and 18 workers have lost their lives. Hundreds more have been injured during construction.
Above: The new crossing also includes a tunnel, allowing ships to access ports in the Park River Delta (image courtesy of BBC News).
Spanning 55-kilometres (34 miles), the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is the longest ocean crossing in the world and includes a 6.7 kilometre (4.2 mile) undersea tunnel allowing large ships to reach ports in the Pearl River Delta.
Above: A map showing the route of the new bridge (image courtesy of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge).
As the bridge connects the two Special Administrative Regions with mainland China, it contains large border crossing facilities. However, it will not be
open to the general public.
Above: One of the border crossing facilities under construction this January (image courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners).
Special permits will be issued to a limited number of drivers with links to the mainland and to commercial traffic. Passenger shuttle buses will be available to those without a permit to drive on the bridge.
This is the second large scale infrastructure project to open in Hong Kong in a month, after the launching of a high speed rail link connecting West Kowloon with Shenzhen at the end of September.
Above: A high speed train line linking Hong Kong to mainland China opened in September (image courtesy of BBC News)
While Chinese authorities insist that these measures are intended to create a more integrated economy for the 117 million inhabitants of the Pearl River Delta Metropolitan Region, some critics see them as a way to curb Hong Kong’s autonomy and bring it in line with the mainland.