Over in the Far East, they’ve just opened the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge. Connecting Hong Kong, Macau, and the Chinese city of Zhuhai, the bridge cost $20 billion and is 34 miles long. It took nine years to build, involved the creation of artificial islands, dips into a tunnel under a busy harbor area, and is supposed to be designed to withstand earthquakes, typhoons, and collisions with oversized tankers.
It’s an impressive engineering feat, no doubt — but when I read about the bridge I mostly felt relief that I wouldn’t have to drive across it.
I’m not a big fan of driving on those lengthy bridges that span bays or harbor or rivers. The towering height over the water, the slightly claustrophobic feeling of being penned in as you cross, and the concern that you are putting yourself totally in the hands of approaching drivers who might be hedging toward the middle — or, even worse, trying to take a photo with their phone — combine to make a long bridge crossing an uncomfortable experience for me. I grip the steering wheel a little tighter as I cross.
I’m not alone in this. Years ago, when Kish and I once traversed the colossal Chesapeake Bay bridge, we learned that some people simply could not bring themselves to drive across it — so many people, in fact, that there were drivers stationed at each end to help people make the trip. Perhaps that’s at least part of the reason why most drivers won’t even have the opportunity to drive on the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai span in their own cars; they’re required to park in Hong Kong and take a shuttle bus or a special hire car to cross the bridge.
If I ever have to cross this new, world’s longest sea-spanning bridge, I’d be happy to have somebody else do the driving. A 34-mile-long bridge might be a bridge too far for me.