The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HKZM) Bridge will open to traffic in 2018, but the precise date is still to be determined by China’s central government, according to Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Administration, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung.
Mr Cheung gave the information at the weekend in a post on his official blog – an increasingly common way for Hong Kong officials to communicate with the public.
The 55-kilometre (34.2-mile) structure (pictured in an August file photo) – that spans the Pearl River Delta – had been due to open in 2016. It will offer an alternative link between the major regional hub of Hong Kong International Airport and Macau’s casino and events market, compared to the current ferry journey from Hong Kong or long road trip via mainland China.
Construction of the Hong Kong section, which links the main bridge to Chek Lap Kok island – where Hong Kong’s airport is located – was held up for almost a year after a resident filed a judicial review against environmental assessment impacts of the project that had been published by the Hong Kong authorities.
According to the most recent update – given earlier this month – the total cost of the bridge’s main section has now hit RMB48 billion (US$7.23 billion).
A report on November 6 from banking group Morgan Stanley about the prospects for the Macau casino and tourism market between now and 2022, described the bridge as one of several “game-changer” infrastructure developments for the market.
The report said the bridge “should capture” 4 to 5 million visitors by 2022, contributing to an increase in visitor numbers to Macau, which the institution thought could reach more than 40 million by 2022, compared to circa 31 million in 2016.
The governments of the three places linked by the bridge have however flagged that public and private transport movement on the bridge will be constrained by a quota system for buses and cars. The details of the quota system are still to be finalised.
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”I wouldn’t be surprised if the [Macau casino] licences get extended for a year or even two years”
Lawrence Ho Yau Lung
Chairman and chief executive of international casino operator Melco Resorts