In late December of 2016, the Highways Department of Hong Kong invited tenders for its latest improvement project: “Provision of Barrier-free Access Facilities for Highway Structures – Phase 3 Contract 9”.
The works are expected to commence in May 2017 and will take about 42 months to complete. The works will mainly comprise of the construction of 25 lifts and three ramps for nine existing footbridges, three existing elevated walkways and four existing subways at 16 locations in Central and Western District, Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Kwai Tsing, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tai Po; and civil works, geotechnical works, electrical and mechanical works, modification works for existing structures, road and drainage works, landscaping works and more associated with the works above.
This is just the latest in a string of projects aimed at providing a sustainable transport infrastructure for Hong Kong, an island of some seven million people.
Indeed, Hong Kong’s roads are among the most heavily used in the world, with over 732,000 vehicles utilising 2,101 kilometres of roads — 442 kilometres on Hong Kong Island, 466 kilometres in Kowloon and 1,193 kilometres in the New Territories.
Hong Kong presents a number of challenges for highway engineers, not only is the terrain difficult, but this is a densely populated area, making planning and road work very difficult whilst maintaining an element of “business as usual”.
“As a road user or a frequent rail passenger, you would have noticed that our roads and rails have major expansions over the years. You might even have proudly shown your visiting friends Hong Kong’s efficient transport systems. However, at times, you might find it rather annoying that there seems to be endless road works, which have caused traffic congestions and inconvenience to the public,” states Mr Chung Kum-wah, Daniel, JP Director of Highways, on the organisation’s website.
“The Highways Department aims at providing an efficient road and rail network for the movement of people and goods. We undertake the planning, design and maintenance of Hong Kong’s public road system and coordinate the implementation of new highway and railway projects,” he continues.
Hong Kong’s transport network comprises of 15 major road tunnels, 1 340 flyovers and bridges as well as 1,222 footbridges and subways to keep people and goods on the move.
The Highways Department undertakes the planning, design, construction and maintenance of the public road system as well as planning and implementation of the railway system.
The department’s expenditure for the 2015/16 financial year totalled $45.4 billion, of which $0.9 billion was for road and public lighting maintenance and $20.2 billion for major highway construction and $24.3 billion for railway construction.
The department is also responsible for issuing Excavation Permits and conducting audits of the excavation works on public roads.
Highways Department has an establishment of approximately 500 professionals and 1,600 staff of other grades. It consists of a Headquarters, two Regional Offices — namely Urban and New Territories Regions, a Railway Development Office, a Major Works Project Management Office and a HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Project Management Office. The Headquarters has seven divisions, ten units which provide specialist services to other offices of the department.
The work of each Regional office falls broadly into district administration and highway maintenance. Owing to Hong Kong’s rugged terrain, typhoons and rainfall, emergency control centres have been established in Regions and Tsing Ma & Tsing Sha Control Areas to deal with emergency matters such as washouts, fallen trees and landslips.
The Railway Development Office oversees and co-ordinates all necessary administrative arrangements relating to railway development.
The Major Works Project Management Office is responsible for managing, planning and implementing the high priority strategic route and other major highway projects.
The HZMB Hong Kong Project Management Office is responsible for the planning and implementation of the HZMB and its related infrastructure projects including the HKLR and associated boundary crossing facilities within HKSAR and various strategic highway infrastructure projects identified under the Northwest New Territories Traffic and Infrastructure Review.
The Highways Department has strong links with the Police and Transport Department. The department also works closely with Building Authority regarding the roads and drainage aspects of private developments.
The proposed Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge (HZMB), being situated at the waters of Lingdingyang of Pearl River Estuary, is a mega-size sea crossing linking the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Zhuhai City of Guangdong Province and Macao Special Administrative Region.1.
It consists of a Main Bridge in Mainland waters together with the boundary crossing facilities and link roads within the three places. The functions of the Bridge are to meet the demand of passenger and freight land transport among Hong Kong, the Mainland (particularly the region of Pearl River West) and Macao, to establish a new land transport link between the east and west banks of the Pearl River, and to enhance the economic and sustainable development of the three places.
The HZMB Main Bridge runs from the artificial island off Gongbei of Zhuhai to the eastern artificial island for the tunnel section just west of the HKSAR boundary.
The project includes a 29.6 kilometre dual 3-lane carriageway in the form of bridge-cum-tunnel structure comprising a tunnel of about 6.7 kilometre; two artificial islands for the tunnel landings west of the HKSAR boundary; and associated works including civil and structural works, environmental mitigation, drainage, electrical and mechanical, traffic control and surveillance system, etc.
The project began in 2009. At the end of 2016, it was announced that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Gongbei Tunnel had been completed after a four- year construction period, according to Chinese reports.
The entire structure is 2,741 metres long, consisting of two tunnels and one cross-harbour tunnel, and crosses through the entire Gongbei border checkpoint region, with six lanes in total.
In order to build the main tunnel underneath the Gongbei border gate, another 255 metre-long secondary tunnel was built, which is now included in the aforementioned total length.
The entire area that was excavated by engineers and construction workers spans 336.8 square metres, with a height equivalent to an eight-storey building.
Both the length and the area have reportedly broken world records.
The 255 metre-long tunnel is also said to have been built in a location where the geographical conditions are incredibly adverse for digging, having been regarded as a “tunnel built inside Tofu.”
The completion of the tunnel means that the bridge’s 13.4 kilometre-long Zhuhai section is now complete.