ZHUHAI, China - The world's longest sea-crossing bridge has officially opened, connecting Hong Kong to mainland China.
The $20 billion, 34-mile, dual three-lane link bridge is an amazing display of engineering, carrying with it significant economic and political opportunity for China.
The bridge, which took a decade to build and encompasses 11 cities, will cut travel time across the delta from several hours to just 30 minutes. An undersea tunnel will allow ships to pass through the Pearl River Delta, the heart of China's major manufacturing sector.
Beijing hopes the bridge will drive major economic growth and position the city to rival the technological hub of San Francisco. More than 68 million people live in the surrounding bay area.
Although the goal of the bridge is to unite various manufacturing and automation regions, access to it will be heavily regulated. Travelers from Hong Kong will require special permits. Those who wish for long-term permits will have to meet strict criteria, such as paying higher taxes in China, make large donations to charities in the Southern Chinese province of Guangdongg, or those who are members of one of several key political organizations.
The bridge will be outfitted with an array of surveillance cameras, which will enforce security and check for driver fatigue. Authorities will be alerted if a driver is seen yawning three times.
The bridge is designed to last 120 years; withstand hurricanes, typhoons, and tsunamis; and resist a magnitude-8-earthquake.
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