Sustainability and Cross-boundary Mega Infrastructure Planning in Hong Kong: A Case Study of Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong Bridge. Accompanied with the higher level of globalization and increasingly saturated domestic market, modern cities and countries start gauging carefully the possible options to promote economic interaction with neighbor regions. This scenario, as a result, gives birth to many cross-boundary mega infrastructures including bridges, highways and tunnels across the world. Although the initial purpose of most of those projects is to achieve economic growth in the long run, sustainability often exists as a huge hurdle for current and future returns to be realized. Among them, the Hong Kong-Zhu Hai-Macau Bridge serves as an especially relevant and suitable example to showcase some of the challenges that the planner may face during cross-boundary mega infrastructure planning.
Tailored for its own urban condition, Hong Kong government defines sustainable development as “to balances social, economic, environmental and resource needs, both for present and future generations, simultaneously achieving a vibrant economy, social progress and a high quality environment, locally, nationally and internationally, through the efforts of the community and the Government” (SUSDEV 21,1997). More specifically, United Nation (2006) indicates that developing a sustainable infrastructure should look at the aspects of “how we build, what we build, and whether we should build the infrastructure at all.” Having understood the concept of sustainable development, and with following justifications and evidence, this essay will demonstrate the benefit and drawback of proceeding major cross-boundary infrastructure plans via evaluating the recent case of Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong Bridge, and it argues that despite the financial gains in the short-term and medium-term, the project exerts immeasurable but significant negative externality on economy , environment and society in both current and future terms. Its purpose also stretches to provide implications for governments and other stakeholders in considerations of sustainability when launching cross-boundary infrastructure projects.
The most obvious benefit of building major infrastructures may be the reduction in transportation cost and time across regions. According to Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project’s website (2010), the HZMB will be “of strategically importance to the further economic development of Hong Kong, Macao and the Western Pearl River Delta region (PRD region) and significantly reduce transportation costs and time for travelers and goods on the road.” In addition, it also mentions that the bridge will reduce 60% to 80% of distance and travelling time from Zhuhai to Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung Container Port and Airport, and in turn it will enhance Hong Kong’s role as a transport hub (Project Benefits , 2010). However, when we look back to UN’s “what we build” question, HZMB’s function of connecting western part of PRD and Hong Kong seems to be challenged by many views. The chairman of Hutchison, HK tycoon Li Ka-Shing and his deputy Canning Fok, criticized the bridge proposal and argued that the bridge is not only costly but also lacks any obvious economic benefits, and the extensive network of ferries in the PRD is sufficient to tie HK with the western side of the PRD (Yang, 2006). They represent another group of stakeholder whose business is closely linked to the port or transportation, and HZMB may result a change in format of operation and become a relative disadvantage for them.
To larger scale, suspicions from stakeholders such as Li Ka-Shing may be justified by the proposed Shenzhe-Zhongshan Bridge which is due to construct in 2015. It bypasses Hong Kong that and may attract business from Western PRD to choose port in Shenzhen instead. Therefore the suggested functions from HZMB may...