THREE hours of work to hoist and place a huge steel cylinder weighing 637.43 tons, equivalent to the weight of 20 Boeing 737 aircraft, into the Lingding sea area at the mouth of the Pearl River on Monday marked the start of construction of the western artificial island of the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Corridor.
The 38.5-meter-tall cylinder, as high as a 13-story building, will be fixed along with another 56 cylinders of similar sizes, to form the base and frame of the island, which is an important project in the middle of the Pearl River to connect the tunnel section and bridge section of the corridor.
Diamond shaped, like a kite floating on the sea, the area of the artificial island that is above the sea level will be 137,000 square meters, equivalent to 19 standard soccer fields. It will be 456 meters wide and 625 meters long at its farthest points.
According to Pan Fang, deputy director with the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Corridor Management Center, cyclinder-based artificial island technology has a minimum impact on the environment and saves time. It was first used in the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
Zhou Haitao, former chief engineer with the Ministry of Transportation, thought that the hydrologic condition of the corridor is much more complicated than that of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The contractors will face challenges clearing away the silt and filling with sand.
The 24-km Shenzhen-Zhongshan Corridor, a key project for Guangdong, includes two artificial islands, two suspension bridges and the world's widest immersed tunnel with eight traffic lanes in two directions and boasts a capacity for 90,000 cars per day.
It starts at Shenzhen's Airport Overpass, an interchange overpass on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Riverside Expressway, touches land on Ma'an Island in Zhongshan and terminates at the Hengmen Overpass, an interchange overpass on the Zhongshan-Kaiping Expressway and Zhongshan Eastern Outer Ring Expressway.
Work on the eastern artificial island and tunnel will commence before the end of the year. Work on the bridge will start in March next year.
The 46-billion-yuan (US$6.76 billion) Shenzhen-Zhongshan Corridor, which will be located about 40 kilometers north of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, will connect Shenzhen with the cities of Zhongshan and Jiangmen, cutting more than 100 kilometers off the current journey from Shenzhen to the western part of the Pearl River Delta. After the corridor is completed in 2024, the trip to Zhongshan from Shenzhen will be cut to 30 minutes.
Currently, Shenzhen drivers need to pass over the often congested Humen Bridge to get to Zhongshan, and the total trip takes between two and three hours.