HONG KONG, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- "It's such a huge construction! Remarkable!" said Hong Kong resident Lau To-dong, who was looking forward to riding on the world's longest cross-sea bridge.
The 55 km-long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which links the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Zhuhai City of Guangdong Province and Macao SAR, officially started operation at 9:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday.
The Hong Kong section of the bridge comprises the Hong Kong Port and the Hong Kong Link Road. The port, located on an artificial island of about 150 hectares reclaimed from the open waters off the northeast of the Hong Kong International Airport on Lantau Island, provides clearance facilities for passengers and vehicles to enter or leave Hong Kong via the new bridge.
Lau, who has lived in Lantau for more than two decades, had witnessed how the artificial island had been built from scratch. He went to visit the port with two of his neighbors early in the morning.
He said the opening of the bridge was good news to residents around. "From now on it will be much more convenient for us to travel to the mainland and Macao."
Journey time from Hong Kong to Zhuhai and Macao via the new bridge will be largely shortened to just 30 minutes.
Without the bridge, a road trip from Hong Kong to Zhuhai and other cities in the western part of Guangdong Province could take more than three hours. Otherwise, people could go on an hour-long ferry ride from Hong Kong to Macao or Zhuhai.
More crowds gathered at the Hong Kong port as the opening time came closer. At 8:55 a.m. local time, over ten cross-boundary coaches continually arrived at the port. When the clock struck nine, the first batch of passengers rushed excitedly into the Passenger Clearance Building.
People went through the immigration clearance procedures orderly by using the traditional and electronic counters. Many of them seized the chance to take pictures and record the historic moment.
Hong Kong middle school student Siu Chun Yin and a dozen of his classmates organized a trip to Zhuhai via the bridge.
Siu said that he felt honored to be among the first batch of passengers using the brand new bridge, and he hoped the bridge would further enhance exchange and communication between students from Hong Kong and the mainland.
Secretary for Transport and Housing of the Hong Kong SAR government Chan Fan visited the port of the bridge this morning and talked to some of the passengers.
Chan told media that there were about 100 cross-boundary coaches setting off from the Hong Kong port, and some 30,000 tourists were coming over from the mainland through the port on Wednesday.
"We will keep a close watch of the situation and try to mobilize more resources in enabling our handling capacity in performance" so as to give passengers a pleasant traveling experience, Chan said.
Among the first batch of visitors coming to Hong Kong via the bridge, was a group of about 100 tourists from Zhongshan City of Guangdong Province led by tour guide Lu Dehao.
"It took us three hours to travel from Zhongshan to Hong Kong via Shenzhen by land. But now, with the new bridge, it saves us a lot of time," Lu said. The change of route would also help promote Hong Kong day trips in nearby cities of the mainland.
Miss Bai from Macao, a frequent visitor who usually takes a ferry to Hong Kong, was satisfied with the new option of travel. "It's faster to travel via the bridge and it's steadier and comfier, too," she said. Enditem