Engineers have begun test-drilling for the Salvador-Itaparica road bridge in Bahia state, Brazil.
It comes five years after parties agreed a public-private partnership deal for the bridge, set to be Latin America’s second-longest.
Expected to cost around $1.8bn, the 12.4km structure would cross the Bay of All Saints, linking Salvador, the capital city of Bahia State, to the island of Itaparica, which has fixed links to the mainland on its side of the bay.
Lined up to build it is a consortium including China Communications Construction Company and China Railway 20 Bureau Group.
They will operate and maintain the bridge for 35 years.
The consortium was selected in December 2019 after it came in as the only bidder for the project.
The final contract was signed in November 2020, but the pandemic delayed the start of construction and raised its cost by around $500m.
According to a report from Bahia State government, drilling on land will take the rest of February, and will be followed by surveying in the bay.
That will involve drilling from ships to collect seabed samples, a process set to last for the rest of this year.
Work on the bridge itself would start at the beginning of next year.
The state noted that the cable-stayed bridge would be accompanied by around 34km of highways, two tunnels and viaducts.
Together they will be “a new vector of income distribution” and could benefit 10 million Bahians in 250 municipalities, the state said.
It added that the scheme would boost tourism by cutting journey times to popular destinations.