As American President Donald Trump struggles to proceed with plans to construct a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, cross-border transport is gaining widespread popularity elsewhere in the world. What is being dubbed the HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will connect three major Chinese cities and is planned to open in the summer of this year as a means to significantly decrease transport time between the cities in the Pearl Delta.

The Greater Bay Area, an area in Southeast China, includes the City of Zhuhai, which is in Guangdong Province, Macau, and Hong Kong, both of which are autonomous regions under Chinese control. The bridge in question has been under construction since 2008 and will finally be open to the public in the summer of 2018. The HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is approximately 55 kilometers (34 miles) long, with the bridge itself covering 22.9 kilometers (18 miles) and a tunnel covering 6.7 kilometers (4.1 miles).

About 420,000 tons of steel were needed to construct the bridge, which is enough to build 60 Eiffel Towers; an additional 1.08 million cubic meters (3.56 million cubic feet) of cement were used to fortify the structure. The bridge can allegedly withstand earthquakes up to 8-magnitude, typhoons, and is supposed to remain in service for up to 120 years.

Construction on the multi-billion dollar bridge began in 2008 and was scheduled to begin service in 2016. But due to the intergovernmental nature of the bridge itself, concerns from the Hong Kong side on its adverse environmental effects pushed its inauguration to 2018.

The purpose of the HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is to connect the cities in the Pearl Delta by reducing travel time between. Prior to the construction of the bridge, travel time over land between Zhuhai and Hong Kong took up to four hours and spanned over 200 kilometers (124 miles). Even with a ferry service between the two cities, travel time was one hour.

HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Courtesy of South China Morning Post

Yu Lie, Deputy Director of the HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Authority, spoke to Xinhuanet about the expected benefits the bridge will bring to the cities in the Pearl Delta. “As the bridge is ready to open to the public, people will have high expectations from it in terms of its transport function and how it can benefit the people,” he said. Lie went on to describe to Xinhuanet how the bridge will serve as a transport link to increase the social, economic, cultural, and touristic activity in the region.

The bridge connects three very different cities in Southeast China. Aside from their unusual political status as administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China, they are unique in what they offer the Chinese government. Zhuhai is one of China’s first Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and today serves as one of China’s most popular resort cities. Similarly, Macau is notorious for being one of the world’s most important gambling spots. Hong Kong, on the other hand, serves as one of the region’s most economically adept with the highest GDP per capita in all of Asia.