Connecting dots

104

Chances are the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will be completed and operational this year, in spite of safety claims regarding the concrete that has been used in parts of the superstructure.
On the west side of the Delta, construction on the artificial island that will connect the bridge to Macau is progressing steadily, so that the checkpoint can be opened when the bridge opens.
Most likely, the super bridge will create a new influx of visitors to Macau, in addition to the regular hordes.
But mind that the only structure connecting the island to the city proper is a tiny bridge that links the new landfill to the peninsula, up north.
Now, that might be problematic.
It is well known that the Gongbei checkpoint – and by extension, the peninsula – is saturated. Not only does it receive the largest influx of tourists from the Mainland, but large numbers of workers also cross it on a daily basis.
I have to agree that the Light Rail Transit (LRT) does make sense in that regard.
But then it too is complicated. Yet, money is but lacking, and technology and experience are out there to assist in the task.
Subject to public consultation, several problems were raised in regards to the LRT track. In truth, nobody wants a train passing by their window. But some things have to be done, regardless.
At some point, the project posed a problem to the Border Gate monument. The authorities considered removing it – yes, as in physically changing places – and assigning it to another site in the city – an apparently surreal proposition which is foreseen by the Cultural Heritage Protection law (Saint Paul’s, watch out!).
It is actually quite amazing that removing heritage property around the city, leaving free space to private developers, has not yet been done.
In any case, dropping the LRT plan for the peninsula would make sense if there were already a connection between the artificial island and Cotai, given it is likely that the majority of visitors will come to gamble after all.
And so the fourth bridge makes more sense, except that it is not out there yet, and it might take a long time to materialize – think the Pac-On ferry terminal, the LRT itself, the new hospital, the recycled water plant.
Channelled to Cotai, visitors who would rather not wander around casino venues could always reach the peninsula by hopping on a shuttle bus, public transport, or cab.
Maybe one day, they will even be able cross back and forth on a boat!