Accessing Macau and Hong Kong from mainland China just got a lot easier, thanks to the opening of this new bridge. Spanning 34 miles, this is the world’s longest sea bridge, and it’s revolutionizing Chinese transportation by linking Zhuhai, Macau, and Hong Kong in just 30 minutes.

It took $20 billion and nine years to build this impressive structure, and it’s expected to be one of the safest, most durable bridges ever built. It was constructed using 400,000 tonnes of steel — enough to build 60 Eiffel Towers — in order to withstand the force of earthquakes and typhoons. It will also be composed of link roads, viaducts, and a middle section that dips into an undersea tunnel to allow ships to pass through.

The bad news for eager travelers is that not everyone can use the bridge. You must obtain a special permit determined by a quota system, and the bridge will not be served by buses or trains. And if you do find yourself crossing the bridge, you’d better make sure you’re awake and alert. According to a local media report, the bridge will be equipped with “yawn cams,” designed to identify drowsy drivers. Yawn three times, and you could actually be pulled over by authorities. It’s also important to remember that when crossing into mainland China, you’ll have to switch sides of the road. People drive on the left in Hong Kong and Macau, but as the bridge is in Chinese territory, merger channels have been built to allow drivers to transition to the right side.

While the bridge will certainly make travelers’ lives easier, it brings its share of controversies. First, the bridge has claimed the lives of at least 18 construction workers who perished on the project. Second, environmental groups are less than enthused about its impact on wildlife. According to the Hong Kong branch of the World Wildlife Fund, the number of dolphins in Hong Kong waters has decreased from 148 to 47 over the past 10 years, and are now completely absent from the area surrounding the bridge. Samantha Lee, assistant director of ocean conservation at the WWF, said, “The project has made irreversible damage to the sea.”

H/T: BBC News

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