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Bridge cost overrun 'acceptable'

By CARRIE QIU in Hong Kong | | Updated: 2017-11-22 21:30

Bridge cost overrun 'acceptable'

Workers are finishing up construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the world's longest bridge-tunnel complex. It stretches a total of 55 kilometers. [Roy Liu/China Daily]

HK says 'project of the century' will exceed plan by 10 billion yuan

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said on Tuesday that the main section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is expected to exceed its budget by 10 billion yuan — but that's "acceptable" according to a legislator who represents the engineering sector.

Hong Kong's Transport and Housing Bureau said on Tuesday that the overrun is the result of increasing labor and material costs, as well as design and construction refinements.

Additional costs are expected to be financed by Hong Kong, Macao and mainland authorities, as well as through bank loans, the bureau said.

The government will report to Hong Kong's Legislative Council as soon as the details are confirmed, and seek LegCo's approval for the required additional funding.

Construction of the main bridge — a 22.9-kilometer-long deck and a 6.7 km underwater tunnel — is progressing well, the bureau said, as the bridge and tunnel section have been connected.

Work on the tunnel interior, including the road; buildings on artificial islands; other roadways; and traffic controls continues.

The 55-km-long bridge, work on which began in 2009, is 95 percent complete, according to Lin Ming, the chief engineer of the island and tunnel section of the bridge. The project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok, who represents the engineering sector in the city's legislature, told China Daily that the difficulty of the construction is making it "the project of the century", and cost overruns are to be expected.

For example, the tunnel section of the main bridge, which is formed by 33 submerged tubes, each 180 meters long, is by far the longest and deepest underwater tunnel in the world.

"With that kind of difficulty and complexity, the overrun is acceptable," Lo said.

Lo said the commissioning of the bridge will not only increase the efficiency of travel between the three cities, but also bring a lot of business opportunities to Hong Kong.

"These are the indirect gains from the bridge that people might overlook," he said.

Also on Tuesday, the Guangdong Development and Reform Commission announced an upcoming hearing, set for late December in Zhuhai, to gauge the views of operators, consumers and other parties on the necessity, feasibility and advisability of tolls.

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