THE Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was a key topic as 130 expatriates and Chinese from Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and other PRD areas socialised at the 7th Delta Inter Chamber Event (DICE) at the Macao Tower a week ago Friday.
Organised by Delta Bridges Media ltd, the event encompassed a presentation by Philip Wang from ARUP, designer of the bridge and its manmade islands, about the background and design work of the mega-bridge and amenities from the Zhuhai side by Chris Cottrell, director at Credit Suisse, and a cocktail reception for networking.
The mega-bridge was put forward for the first time as Lingdingyang Bridge as early as 1983, noted Wong. Under construction as of December 2009, the world’s longest bridge will form a Y-shaped crossing between Zhuhai and Macao on the western side and Hong Kong on the eastern side. The 29.6km main section in Zhuhai waters comprises 22.8km of bridge work including three cable-stayed bridges with spans ranging from 280m to 460m, viaducts spanning 75m and 110m, a 6km tunnel and two artificial islands.
The first major combined bridge and tunnel sea-crossing project in China, it is considered a vital link to prosperity in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region. Upon completion in 2016, the travel time from Hong Kong to Macao or Zhuhai will be reduced from more than two hours to half an hour, helping to boost logistics and tourism development in the region, according to Wang.
ARUP made the preliminary design for a section of a 5.5km viaduct in the shallow water region close to Zhuhai, a 350m viaduct connecting the eastern manmade island and viaduct in Hong Kong waters, and the cable-stayed bridge section across the Jiuzhou Channel. It also provided seismic design to bridges and artificial islands and reviews on the durability and tunnel ventilation, Wang explained.
Founded in 1946, ARUP first came to the world’s attention with structural design of the Sydney Opera House, followed by its work on the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Most recently, its work for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing has reaffirmed its reputation for delivering innovative and sustainable designs that reinvent the built environment.
Chris briefed the audience about the infrastructure and amenities Zhuhai boasts, including major projects under construction in Hengqin New Area.
Questions were raised following the presentations and guests were vocal about the bridge and its benefits to the three areas.
"Personally, it will benefit me to get to Hong Kong a lot quicker than using the ferry," said Yvonne Pagliero, a French-German who co-runs Azure Restaurant at Nanping Seafood Street in Zhuhai.
Yvonne also said it is wonderful that she will be able to go to Hong Kong for cultural activities such as concerts and shows without staying overnight now that the border checkpoint will be open 24 hours.
"From the business side, I think it will benefit everybody in this region. Being a partner of a restaurateur, we do have a lot of customers from Hong Kong, Macao, even other Asian countries like Singapore. I think it will bring more international customers for the restaurant," she stated.
Chris spoke highly of the bridge, which he thought would not only bring Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Macao people, but also Northeast China, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen -- all of China -- to Zhuhai.
"This is like the Great Wall of China or Three Gorges Dam -- This is a global architectural project, and it’s going to attract people to move here. I actually feel lucky to witness this change." he declared.
When Chris's grandfather was a young man, he watched the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco being built, and then he went to war against the Japanese in the Pacific. When he came back, the bridge was finished.
"When I was a child going on that bridge, I felt it was magical. I always have this idea that this bridge may be nicknamed the Pearl Gate Bridge -- the largest bridge in the world. It will put Hong Kong, Macao and Zhuhai all together along one river. One is the financial capital for Asia; one is the gambling capital for the world; and maybe another is becoming a logistics capital for South China -- I don’t know," he said. “It will make it very, very interesting here by 2020."
Nevertheless, some guests questioned whether and how the bridge will benefit ordinary people. They also expect that more-detailed information about the bridge on the Zhuhai side should be made known.
People kept coming to the cocktail reception at the "180 Lounge" later on and enjoyed networking with people from different walks of life. They were happy to meet old and new friends, have a drink and have group photos taken.
Masakatsu Kato, an A318 & 319 captain at Business Aviation Asia ltd Shenzhen, said he wondered why Zhuhai and Macao are so active in organising such inter-chamber events, and he would hope they can also take place in Shenzhen someday.
JJ Verdun from Delta Bridges Media ltd, the sole organiser of DICE, reaffirmed that the main reason the regular event takes place every three months is networking under a very general topic. This way people can meet others from totally different areas, exchange ideas and discover new horizons. They chose the topic this time because many people are interested in the bridge, which will access the life of leisure in terms of infrastructure. Having taken place in Macao seven times, DICE will be hosted in Guangzhou and Shenzhen later, he revealed.
Gathering members from various Chambers of Commerce from Macao, Hong Kong and Guangdong, DICE is an exclusive business event comprising a conference panel focused on a regional topic, followed by a networking cocktail reception, according to Delta Bridges Media.
-By Betty Lin, Zhuhai Daily