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Tunneling Construction Projects in Hong Kong

Tunneling Construction Projects in Hong Kong

The clock seems to tick faster in Hong Kong......I'm sure any of you who've experienced life in this crowded, vibrant, exciting city would agree with this!

The Hong Kong lifestyle prides itself on efficiency and it’s easy to get an impression of rushing everything, meals, communication, travelling…. Speaking of travelling, over 90% of daily journeys here are made using public transport, giving it the highest passenger use rate in the world. Hong Kong’s highly developed and sophisticated transportation network can take a lot of the credit for this. Due to Hong Kong's unique geographical profile, the expertise and creativity of the tunnel builders here have been extremely important in making the transportation system what it is today.

The first road tunnel in Hong Kong was completed back in 1967 and connected Shatin in the New Territories with Kowloon Tong. Christened the Lion Rock Tunnel, this twin-bored construction was built in conjunction with a water supply tunnel through the range of hills separating Kowloon and the New Territories. The government soon realised there was a growing need for development in urban planning as Shatin became a new town however, so in 1978 the second Lion Rock Tunnel opened  to share the traffic.

The Cross-Harbour Tunnel is not only one of the earliest tunnels opened in Hong Kong, but also the   first tunnel built underwater. Using the single shell immersed tube method, two 1.8 km-long steel road tunnels were constructed beneath Victoria Harbour connecting Causeway Bay and Hung Hom. Built by the private sector and operating under a 30-year franchise since 1972, the tunnel is now owned by the Hong Kong government. As the first road link connecting the main financial and commercial districts on both sides of Victoria Harbour, it relieved the cross-harbour vehicular traffic which was previously dependent on ferries.  In fact, the Cross-Harbour Tunnel has now earned the dubious accolade of being one of the most congested roads in Hong Kong and the world!

Speaking of world-famous, innovative tunneling construction in Hong Kong, we must certainly mention the Kai Tak Tunnel. This project started in 1976 and was the world’s first tunnel built beneath an operating airport. Adopting the cut-and-cover technique for almost it's entire length, the Kai Tak Tunnel was not completed until 1982 due to the difficulties in digging under the airport runway. The toll-free tunnel connects the Kowloon Bay and To Kwa Wan areas beneath the former Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport and was built with the purpose of improving traffic that had to detour through Kowloon City.

The forthcoming South Island railway line project is inevitably great news for residents there, but for the time being, the Aberdeen tunnel will  remain. Since 1982, this has proven the most reliable link between the southern and central part of Hong Kong Island anyway! The Aberdeen tunnel is a two-tube tunnel linking Happy Valley to Aberdeen. Together with the Lion Rock Tunnel and Cross Harbour tunnel, it provides an express way running from Aberdeen, south of Hong Kong Island across the Harbour to Hung Hom and terminates at Shatin in the New Territories.

With the increased traffic circulation due to population and prosperity growth, there was a growing  need for another harbor crossing. The subsequent Eastern Harbour Crossing came into use in 1986. The tunnel also included the first combined road and MTR rail link in Hong Kong, running from Lam Tin in Kowloon to Quarry Bay in Hong Kong Island East. It provides a direct link between the island's Eastern Corridor and the Kwun Tong Bypass, giving convenient access from Kowloon into the golden district of the island. MTR originally paid a regular annual fee to the tunnel builder for Tseung Kwan O railway line to run alongside the 2 way traffic in the submerged 2.3 km twin-tube, but in 2008 the government awarded the franchise for the complete tunnel operation to MTRC.

So, the major tunnels in Hong Kong are doing a great job, but with an expanding population and growing infrastructure needs, there's always room for improvement!  In the coming couple of years, Hong Kong will be working on Tuen Mun – Chek Lap Kok Link, Tuen Mun Western Bypass, Lung Shan Tunnel and Cheung Shan Tunnel as part of the developing transport network.

 If you are interested in tunneling or other related infrastructure projects, whether at planning or construction stage, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Maxim Recruitment's recruitment office in Hong Kong for an exciting opportunity to take part in these projects!

Kelly Ng
Maxim Recruitment
July 2013

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