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The world's longest sea crossing: The Hong Kong-Zhuhai Bridge opens Image copyright Getty Images Image texts China has been working on the bridge since 2009.

<img class = "js-image-replace" alt = "Aerial view of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge June 11, 2018 in Zhuhai Chinese President Xi…

<img class = “js-image-replace” alt = “Aerial view of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge June 11, 2018 in Zhuhai

Chinese President Xi Jinping has officially opened the world’s longest naval bridge, nine years after construction began first.

Including its access routes, the bridge spans over 55 km and connects Hong Kong with Macau and mainland China

The bridge has cost about SEK 20 billion and has seen several delays.

Construction has been subdued by security issues &#821

1; at least 18 workers have died on the project, officials say. [19659007] Xi participated in the opening ceremony of the bridge that took place in Zhuhai along with the leaders in Hong Kong and Macau on Tuesday.

The source will open for regular traffic on Wednesday.

What’s so special about this bridge?

The junction connects three important coastal cities in southern China – Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai.

The bridge, designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoones, was built using 400,000 tons of steel, enough to build 60 Eiffel Tower. 19659007] About 30km of its total length passes the sea by the Pearl River Delta. To allow ships through, a 6.7 km section in the middle dips into an underwater tunnel that runs between two artificial islands.

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Getty Images

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One of two artificial islands built as part of the multi billion dollar project

The remaining sections are link roads, viaducts and market tunnels that connect Zhuhai and Hong Kong with the main bridge.

  • The world’s longest sea bridge opened
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Why is it built?

It is part of China’s plan to create a larger Bay Area, including Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in southern China.

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Getty Images

The area is currently home to 68 million people.

Earlier, travel between Zhuhai and Hong Kong would take up to four hours – the new bridge cut this down to 30 minutes.

Can anyone drive over the bridge?

no. Those who want to cross the bridge must get special permits, distributed by quota system. And all vehicles will pay a toll.

The bridge is not served by public transport, so private buses will also take the road. There is no rail link.

The authorities initially estimated that 9,200 vehicles would cross the bridge every day. They later lowered their estimates after new transport networks were built in the region.

What do people say about it?

It has been a big criticism of the project.

The bridge has been called “deathbreak” by some local media. At least nine workers on Hong Kong have died and officials told BBC News Chinese that nine had died on the mainland.

Hundreds of workers have also been injured during the construction.

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Getty Images

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At least 18 people have died at the bridge

There have also been concerns about environmental impact.

Environmental groups say that the project could have caused serious damage to marine life in the area, including the critically rare Chinese white dolphin.

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AFP

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It is rare to see Chinese white dolphins around the bridge after years of construction, say environmental groups

The number of dolphins seen in Hong Kong’s waters has fallen from 148 to 47 over the last 10 years, and they are now absent at water near the bridge, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Hong Kong Department.

“The project has caused irreversible damage to the ocean,” said Samantha Lee, Deputy Director of Ocean Conservation at WWF. “I’m worried that the number will never get up again.”

Will it compensate its costs?

The bridge, surrounding lanes and artificial islands cost a staggering $ 20 billion to build – the main bridge alone costs $ 6.92bn.

Chinese officials say it will generate up to 10 trillion yuan ($ 1.44tn, £ 1tn) for the economy, but a Hong Kong legislator doubts that figure.

“I’m not sure whether the bridge can maintain if not many cars use it,” told Tanya Chan of BBC News Chinese. “

” I’m pretty sure we’ll never back it back. “

According to an estimation from BBC Chinese, the bridge will only earn about $ 86 million in tolls per year.

The bridge’s maintenance costs would actually already remove a third of this income.

Critics have called the bridge a” big white elephant “which guarantees no economic returns. Others have said that the main purpose is symbolic and that Hong Kong is physically linked to the mainland.

Further reporting from BBC’s Lam Cho Wai

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