This fascinating bridge doesn’t just look amazing but also holds a couple of records. This has everything to do with the fact that it carries both road and rail traffic across the Ma Wan Channel near Hong Kong.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Tsing Ma Bridge, an incredible structure with some interesting stories to tell.
1. It was named after the two islands it connects near Hong Kong
The Tsing Ma Bridge connects the islands of Tsing Yi and Ma Wan, two islands located in the “New Territories” region of Hong Kong. Ma Wan is the smaller of the two islands and both are located just northwest of the bustling city.
The bridge allows direct access from these two islands to the much larger Lantau Island. This island was previously only accessible by boat and was completely rural.
This means that the bridge played a major role in the development of Lantau Island, an immense hilly island that covers an area of 147.16 square kilometers (56.82 square miles).
The first attraction you come across on this island is the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. It’s also the location of the Hong Kong International Airport.
2. The bridge was built in the 1990s as part of a large project
One of the most interesting facts about the Tsing Ma Bridge is that it was one of the 3 parts of the so-called “Lantau Link.” This was a major construction project that allowed the Lantau Island, which mainly consisted of fishing villages, to be developed.
The Lantau Link consists of 3 main components, the Tsing Ma Bridge, the Ma Wan Viaduct, and the Kap Shui Mun Bridge. All these projects allowed a direct link between Lantau Island and the Kowloon District, the main urban area in Hong Kong.
The construction of the bridge started in May 1992 and was completed in April 1997. It officially opened for traffic on May 22 of that year.
3. The main span of the bridge is incredibly long
The first thing you notice is that the design of this suspension bridge features two immense towers with 2 incredibly long decks in between (the upper carries road traffic, the lower rail traffic). That’s because it’s one of the longest suspension bridges in the world.
The main span of the bridge has a length of 1,377 meters (4,518 feet) which makes it the 14th-longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of writing this article (January 2022).
To give some reference to this number, the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has a main span of 1280.2 meters (4,200 feet), which is almost 100 meters shorter.
What’s remarkable about this bridge and its span is not just that it was the second-longest bridge of its kind in the world upon completion, but that it’s still the longest suspension bridge in the world that carries rail traffic.
4. The towers of the bridge are much taller than they appear to be
To support these extremely long decks of the Tsing Ma Bridge, huge towers had to be constructed. While they don’t appear to be that tall at first glance, these are huge.
Both towers have the same height and stand exactly 206 meters (676 feet) above the Ma Wan Channel below. The clearance below the deck they carry reaches a maximum height of 53 meters (174 feet).
Another interesting fact about the Tsing Ma Bridge is that it’s relatively wide as well with a maximum width of 41 meters (135 feet).
5. The observation platform near the bridge offers spectacular views
The bridge has become a popular tourist attraction in itself since its completion in the late 20th century, despite the copious amounts of tourist attractions in the stunning city of Hong Kong.
The main reason is that there’s a visitor center called the “Lantau Link Visitors Center” located just right next to the bridge. This center provides information about the Lantau Link and the construction of the Tsing Ma Bridge.
There’s also a viewing platform that provides amazing views of both this bridge and the nearby Ting Kau Bridge, an equally fascinating structure and distinctive landmark in Hong Kong.
More interesting facts about the Tsing Ma Bridge
6. The Lantau Link was the project of which the Tsing Ma Bridge was the main component. This project was in turn part of a much larger construction project called the “Airport Core Programme.”
This project revolved around setting things up in such a way that the International Airport of Hong King could be built on the northern part of Lantau Island. It involved both transportation projects as well as land reclamation projects.
7. Multiple construction companies from all around the world were interested in completing this expansive project. A consortium of British and Japanese companies won the bid, including Costain, Mitsui, and Trafalgar House.
The cost to build the bridge ended up being HK$7.14 billion, which is only a fraction it cost to complete the Airport Core Programme which cost a whopping HK$160.2 billion.
8. The bridge was designed by the MottMacDonald Group, a company based in the United Kingdom. They made an initial design in 1982 for the project and are believed to have been inspired by both the Forth Bridge near Edinburgh and the Severn Bridge in South West England.
9. One of the towers stands on the northwestern edge of Tsing Yi Island while the other tower is located on a man-made island that was constructed 120 meters (390 feet) off the Ma Wan Island.
10. The anchorages that support this incredible structure were deeply rooted into the bedrock on both sides. The anchorage on the Tsing Yo side consists of 200,000 tonnes of concrete while the one on the Ma Wan side uses 250,000 tonnes of concrete.
11. While it appears that the bridge is supported by 2 immense cables, these consist of 70,000 much smaller cables with a diameter of 5.38 millimeters (0.212 inches). These smaller cables form the main cables that have a diameter of 1.1 meters (3.6 feet).
12. The bridge is an incredibly busy place as anywhere between 80,000 and 100,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. This means that well over 30 million vehicles cross the bridge yearly.