Meanwhile, Hong Kong legislators have agreed to pay an extra HK$5.4 bln funding request after Finance Committee chairman cuts short pan-democrat filibustering
A 3.3 kilometre stretch of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, connecting north Hengqin interchange to Hongwan interchange, has opened to the traffic, according to China Radio International (CRI).
“The connection line of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge starts from an artificial island in the Zhuhai-Macau port and ends at Hongwan, via the Gongbei Port and through Qianshanhe big bridge and Jiangjunshan, totalling 13.4 kilometres.
The section now opened to traffic is 3.3 kilometres from north Hengqin interchange to Hongwan interchange. It’s at the end of the connection line,” the senior engineer responsible for the construction of the section, Li Jian, is quoted by CRI as saying.
The section linking north Hengqin interchange with Hongwan interchange enables vehicles to enter and exit the Hengqin area of the Guangdong Free Trade Zone in a shorter period of time.
Green light for extra budget
In addition, following 22 hours of debate, Hong Kong legislators voted 29 to 13 to approve an extra HK$5.4 billion (US$693.9 million) funding request for the project over the weekend by Hong Kong Legislative Council’s Finance Committee, according to Hong Kong media reports.
Pro-government committee chairman Chan Kin-por blocked pan-democrat filibustering by reducing the time for questions, leading to accusations that he had acted in an “arbitrary” manner.
According to local newspaper South China Morning Post’s report Chan admitted after the vote that transport officials had failed to provide satisfactory answers to lawmakers’ questions on the project, but he said he had to cut the debate time “to strike a balance” between his colleagues’ right to ask questions and “public interest”.
Funding was first approved in 2011. The government says the extra money is necessary because of surging labour and material costs. The whole project estimate is now HK$35.9 billion (US$4.61 billion).
Hong Kong officials have also said construction will not be completed this year as scheduled because of various difficulties, including an unstable supply of materials, labour shortages, restrictions on airport height and constraints brought about by environmental protection requirements. The Bridge is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017 according to the Hong Kong Highways Department.
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge starts operating on Mainland