The Hong Kong Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Link in China will be the longest sea-crossing combination of bridges, a tunnel and artificial islands in the world. TEC (a permanent joint venture between Royal HaskoningDHV and Witteveen+Bos) was appointed as the lead tunnel consultant for our far-reaching expertise in immersed tunnel design and construction.
Crossing the Pearl River Estuary and linking Hong Kong in the east with Zhuhai and Macau in the west, this immense project will reduce drive time around the estuary from six hours to less than an hour. The total link measures some 50 kilometres and is set to bring significant economic benefits to this region of China by generating investment opportunities on both sides of the water.
The immersed tunnel section of the project incorporates several eye-watering statistics. It measures 5.9 kilometres, weighs 76,000 tonnes and will be constructed 40 metres below sea level to accommodate the future passage of 300,000 tonne oil vessels. Wide spans will accommodate six lanes of traffic and will need to withstand high water pressure associated with the great depth. The world's largest interconnecting pre-built concrete boxes will be floated from the production site to the project location and connected on the seabed where extensive and large scale soil treatment is needed to provide an adequate foundation and to help ensure a 120 year design life.
The construction environment is highly complex too. The area experiences frequent typhoons and is subject to multi-directional navigation, airport height restrictions and exceptionally high environmental standards. This context while challenging, has helped us to deliver ground-breaking design, construction and safety advice and recommendations and extend the limits of tunnelling to create what many are calling a major architectural and engineering icon.
The region is developing very fast and we are involved in several solutions. Our airport consultancy NACO developed the master plan for the new Zhuhai Airport and surrounding area. Thanks to the tunnel link and other local developments, the areal plan is now seen as a strategic driver for economic growth.
Maintaining an integrated, stakeholder-focussed, multi-disciplinary approach to these projects has helped our clients exploit a broad mix of expertise and achieve better socio-economic and environmental outcomes not only for these individual projects, but for the entire region.