Beijing: The world’s longest sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China was officially declared open on Tuesday by the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The bridge will be open to regular traffic from Wednesday and it significantly cuts the travel time from 3 hours to 30 minutes between the three territories.

It will be the world’s longest sea bridge located in the Lingdingyang waters of the Pearl River estuary.

The construction had started in December 2009 and was completed in 2016; the 55-km-long aqueduct constitutes a snaking road bridge and underwater tunnel which links Asia’s financial hub, Hong Kong and the gambling archipelago of Macau.

The bridge was constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 2000 crore and the structure is entitled to have an economic and political significance as Beijing is seen to hold on tight to its semi-autonomous territories.

It took nine years to complete the construction due to the delay in budget overruns, alleged corruption, prosecutions and death of construction workers.

Now, officials state that the traffic expected for the bridge has been reduced. According to, a 2008 consultancy study had predicted that 33,100 vehicles and 1,71,800 passengers would cross the bridge daily by 2030. But the estimate was lowered to 29,100 vehicles and 1,26,000 passenger trips in a 2016 study, down 12% and 26% respectively, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) said.

According to media reports, critics call this bridge as “white elephant” as they claim it is a way to blend Hong Kong into China and fear that the city would lose its "cherished freedom". Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese by the British in 1997 with the promise that it would maintain an independent legal and economic system for 50 years. However, the supporters of the bridge view it as an "engineering marvel".

The bridge is the second major foundation venture, which links Hong Kong to China after the high-speed rail last month. The credit for the 164.8-km-long Danyang-Kunshan Grand viaduct on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway is claimed by China.

The rail link then raised criticisms that Hong Kong was letting go of land as the rail stations came under the jurisdiction of mainland China.