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Island province planning cross-sea bridge
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-24 01:13

Hainan, the island province in South China and also the country's largest special economic zone, is planning to initiate a feasibility study for the construction of a cross-sea bridge, connecting the island with the mainland.

Provincial Governor Wei Liucheng speaks at a meeting as prophase research of the construction of a bridge(tunnel), linking the island province with Chinese mainland, could be launched as early as next year. [chinanews] 
According to Wang Mi, a section director of Hainan Provincial Bureau of Communications, the bureau will hand over a proposal of constructing a 22.5-kilometre bridge spanning the Qiongzhou Straits to the Ministry of Communications for review no later than mid-2005.

But Wang refused to give additional details on the planned bridge.

The investment scale, construction period and source of funds for the project are not being made public at present, Wang told China Daily yesterday.

And the gigantic project will still have to wait for approval from the central authorities before its construction begins, Wang added.

Local economists spoke highly of the role the planned bridge will play in benefiting the island's social development and economic growth.

They believe the bridge will be able to play a bigger part in boosting Hainan's economic development and help further improve the province's investment climate when it is completed.

Guangdong Province is welcoming construction of the bridge. An official from the Guangdong Provincial Development and Reform Commission said he believes the bridge will help expand co-operation between the two provinces and benefit both sides.

Hainan has not yet contacted Guangdong for joint construction on the bride, said the official who refused to be named.

He refused further comment on the project, adding Guangdong is waiting for a detailed feasibility study on the bridge from the Hainan side.

The bridge links Hainan to an advanced expressway network in Guangdong Province. It is expected to provide an easy passage not only for tourists from other parts of the country but also for overseas investment, according to economists.

The bridge will help Hainan expand its economic ties with the prosperous Pearl River Delta and shorten the distance between Hainan and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Investment from Hong Kong represents more than 60 per cent of the total overseas investment in Hainan.

When another cross-sea bridge is built to connect the Zhuhai Special Economic Zone with Hong Kong, it will take only about three hours for vehicles from Hainan to Hong Kong and Macao, via the coastal expressway in the western part of Guangdong Province.

The Zhuhai-Hong Kong bridge that crosses the mouth of the Pearl River has now entered into its final stage of feasibility studies. Construction of the project is expected to start in two years. It is scheduled to go into service before 2010.

Currently, Hainan's economic achievements are far behind those of the Shenzhen and Zhuhai special economic zones that border Hong Kong and Macao.

With its infrastructure being improved, Hainan hopes to emulate the economic success of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in Guangdong.

Poor infrastructure, partly due to being separated from the mainland by the Qiongzhou Straits, has remained a roadblock to the island's widely expected fast growth.

Hainan now heavily depends on air and water transport linking the island to the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and the rest of the world. The cross-strait bridge is likely to bring about a breakthrough in the island's modernization process.

Hainan's land vehicle and trains are dependent on vehicular and rail cross Qiongzhou Strait ferries to reach Hai'an County in the Leizhou Peninsula of Guangdong Province. The marine journey takes about two hours. The cross Qiongzhou Strait passenger rail ferry service began on December 5.

The marine passage is hazardous, especially during the typhoon seasons in summer.

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