|Every year many millions of people use the Tsing Ma Bridge without actually getting a close-up view of this modern-day engineering accomplishment of breathtaking skill -- the world's longest suspension bridge carrying road and rail traffic.|
The explanation is that the Airport Express, which whisks them across the bridge in either direction, travels through one of two rail tunnels slung beneath the six-lane roadway. All are passengers who have either just arrived at Hong Kong's ultra-modern new International Airport at Chek Lap Kok, or are hurrying there to catch their return flights.
Happily, however, most of them see this superb example of bridge-building genius at least from a distance during their stay in Hong Kong. The newest and greatest engineering marvel of this dynamic mega city, it is now Hong Kong's proud new landmark, massively imposing by day, and a twinkling fairyland of lighted lacework by night.
Meanwhile, those bridge-concealing tunnels are there for good reason. If a particularly severe typhoon struck Hong Kong and the bridge had to be closed to road traffic, the trains would still be able to get through in either direction with passengers and their luggage.
Planning for a new airport operating 24 hours a day began in the 90s when it was obvious that the former Kai Tak Airport in urban Kowloon, limited by noise restrictions, could never cope with ever-increasing air traffic.
But it was vital for the planned new airport off the northern coast of Lantau Island to be linked with downtown Kowloon and Hong Kong Island by high-speed road and rail connections.
The key to accomplish this was the Tsing Ma Bridge which leapfrogs the islands of Tsing Yi and Ma Wan, linking up with a lesser bridge in one direction and a tunnel beneath a housing estate in the other.
A viewing platform north of the bridge on Tsing Yi provides excellent views of this and two adjoining bridges. Take the MTR to Tsing Yi and get a taxi. Note: All airport buses cross Tsing Ma and Kap Shui Mun bridges. There is also green minibus 309M running between the Tsing Yi Airport Railway station and the Lantau Link Visitors' Centre every Saturday, Sunday and on public holidays. The service departs the Tsing Yi station from 9:30am to 5pm and from the Visitor's Link from 10am to 6:30pm. The minibuses run every 60 minutes and cost HK$7 for a single journey ticket.
Tsing Ma Bridge appears on the following banknote(s):