Is China’s massive sea bridge washing away?

Authorities in China have had to defend the structural integrity of part of a massive bridge in the South China Sea after photographs raised concerns that a breakwater was being washed away by waves.

They say the large interlocking concrete blocks known as dolosse were intended to respond as the pictures depicted, even though digital renders of the completed structure appear to tell a different story.

Photograph showing part of breakwater submerged (Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority via The Guardian)

It is the latest controversy to hit the ambitious 55k-m Y-shaped sea link comprising bridges and a tunnel between mainland China, Macao and Hong Kong, known as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which has been under construction since 2009.

The aerial photographs, taken by a drone hobbyist, were of the artificial island that forms the point where the main bridge goes undersea as a tunnel.

They seem to show that outer layers of dolosse at one end of the island have been submerged or pushed away by wave action.

The story, which appeared in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on 5 April, prompted the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Authority to insist in two separate statements that the breakwater was behaving as intended.

However, concerns were deemed serious enough for officials from participating municipalities to meet over the issue and to conduct a site visit.

Following that visit Hong Kong’s Director of Highways Daniel Chung Kum-wah stressed again on Monday (9 April) that the structure, completed last year, had not deviated from its final design, and that no repairs were needed, the Post reported.

Chung said the conclusion was that the positioning of the dolosse was "scientific, reasonable and safe".

Intended to slash travel time between Hong Kong and Macau from four and a half hours to 40 minutes, the bridge was due to be complete in 2016, but the hugely complex project has been beset by a number of issues, including fatalities, faked materials testing, and cost overruns.

It is scheduled to open later this year.

Top image: Artist’s render of the completed island shows a more rounded breakwater (Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority)

Further Reading:

Story for GCR? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News