Macau-Hengqin LRT section project gets off ground

2021-03-19 03:42     Comment:0

The Macau-Hengqin Light Rail Transit (LRT) section project got off the ground yesterday when its contractor held a groundbreaking ceremony.

The Macau government’s Infrastructure Development Office (GDI) made the announcement in a statement which reaffirmed that it is aiming for the project to be completed within four years.

The project is a two-station LRT line connecting Macau’s Cotai land-reclamation zone and Zhuhai’s Hengqin Island.

The statement pointed out that last month the Macau government hired Nam Kwong (Group) Company Limited – the only state-owned enterprise headquartered in Macau – to carry out the project, which has a price tag of about 3.5 billion patacas.

The statement also underlined that the aim of the project is to ultimately connect Macau’s LRT with the mainland’s high-speed railway network.

The 2.2-kilometre-long section between Cotai and Hengqin will include a 900-metre-long underwater tunnel. The line will link the Lotus Checkpoint station of the LRT Taipa section near Studio City casino-hotel resort in Cotai with the mainland-Macau joint border checkpoint in Hengqin.

Macau’s Cotai and Zhuhai’s Hengqin have been linked by the 1,756-metre-long vehicular Lotus Flower Bridge across a narrow river since March 2000. Since then both sides had been operating their own checkpoints separately, before the now-defunct Lotus Flower checkpoint was relocated to the new Hengqin checkpoint building on August 18 last year.

The central government granted the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) jurisdiction over the Macau-side checkpoint zone of the new Hengqin checkpoint and the Lotus Flower Bridge on March 18 last year, when the area’s jurisdiction was transferred from Zhuhai to Macau and Macau’s laws started to apply there.

According to a GDI statement last month detailing the project, the LRT Hengqin section’s station in Cotai, to be called HE1, will be built next to the Lotus Checkpoint station of the LRT Taipa section, which is located next to the now-defunct Lotus Flower checkpoint. A passage will be built connecting the two stations for LRT passengers to transfer between the Taipa and Hengqin sections.

According to last month’s GDI statement, the LRT elevated track will gradually descend from the elevated segment in Cotai and cross the river via an underwater tunnel before arriving at the underground station at the Hengqin checkpoint, to be called HE2.

Apart from the construction of the elevated track, an underwater tunnel and the two stations, the 3.5-billion-pataca cost will also cover the project’s construction design and the relocation of various existing underground pipes and cables, according to last month’s statement.

Demolishing Lotus Flower checkpoint

Yesterday’s statement said that the contractor has started some the preparatory work, such as drafting the detailed construction design and a plan to relocate the existing underground pipes and cables, and the setting-up of temporary facilities needed for the project.

Yesterday’s statement said that after the project starts, the contractor will seal off the area of the now-defunct Lotus Flower checkpoint and demolish the checkpoint building and its surrounding facilities.

The statement also said that the construction of the LRT Hengqin section, a Zhuhai-Macau cross-border project, will be carried out on both Cotai and Hengqin sides “simultaneously”.

Macau’s LRT currently only has its 9.3-kilometre-long Taipa section, which includes Cotai, in operation. The government has said that it aims for its ongoing project of the LRT section connecting Taipa and Barra at the southernmost tip of the peninsula – via Sai Van Bridge – to be completed in 2023.

The government spent 10.2 billion patacas on the LRT Taipa section – including the construction, the rolling stock and the setting-up of the system. The ongoing LRT Taipa-Barra section project is budgeted at 4.5 billion patacas.

The government unsealed bids submitted by 10 construction companies for the construction of the LRT Seac Pai Van section in September last year. The government is still to announce which company it will hire to carry out the 1.6-kilometre-long project, which will connect the still under-construction Cotai hospital complex – officially known as Islands Healthcare Complex – and the sprawling Seac Pai Van public housing estate in Coloane.

“Islands” is the official term for Taipa, Coloane and Cotai.

Guests such as Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário (ninth from left), Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Macau Deputy Director Yao Jian (ninth from right) and Nam Kwong (Group) Chairman Fu Jianguo (eighth from left) break ground on the Macau-Hengqin Light Rail Transit (LRT) section project near the now-defunct Lotus Flower checkpoint in Cotai yesterday. Photo: GDI

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