An aerial view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. At 55 kilometers, the bridge is the world's longest sea-spanning structure.
Su Quanke, chief engineer at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority, which operates the structure with steel that spans the Pearl River Delta, ushered his team inside the bridge for a final check of its structural integrity.
Getting to the inner workings of the bridge was no easy task. It required team members to clamber over barriers between traffic lanes and descend a narrow steel ladder, looking straight down at the choppy waves 40 meters below. Every step required caution and a strong head.
Once inside, the team had to walk on narrow, jagged steel meshes structure to cross from one section to another. No lighting was installed during construction, so Su and his team had to rely on portable lights as they examined the work.
The inspection started at noon, but wasn't completed until late afternoon. Su halted every five paces, checking almost everything from the smoothness of a section of troweled cement to the arrangement of a set of wires. His eyes darted around, seeking what he called "imperfections".
"The water pipes have to be double checked. Not even slight leakage can be allowed in the area," he instructed colleagues.
Once the interior inspection was complete, Su returned to the road to examine the anti-collision barriers along the bridge, intended to prevent vehicles involved in mishaps from plummeting into the waters of the estuary. Su wouldn't tolerate a single misplaced section.
"These are the real factors that determine the bridge's integrity," he said.
Su had made checks like this on his own every day, inspecting different sections of the bridge. After the final check, he felt assured at last. The project "has met all expectations" in every technical standard, he told China Daily in an exclusive interview.
He credits the success to the efforts of about 50,000 construction workers and engineers. The HZMB, the world's longest sea crossing at 55 meters, is capable of "standing the test of time", Su said.