The world's longest pier, connecting Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China, was opened to traffic on Wednesday. Excited travelers made their first trips along a place described as a politically driven and expensive white elephant.
"I wanted to try that and see if it is convenient, I will also consider the view, after all, this is a historic engineering project," said Angie Cheng, 58, who took the second bus of the day to Macau
The A 55-kilometer crossing connects Hong Kong with the city of Zhuhai in the south of the mainland and the gambling enclave of Macau across the mouth of the Pearl River. Proponents have hailed it as a technical triumph, but critics say it is a politically driven and expensive white elephant that is part of an attempt by Beijing to integrate semi-autonomous Hong Kong into the mainland.
It is the second major infrastructure project connecting Hong Kong with mainland China to open in just a few weeks – a high-speed rail link started last month, triggering criticism from Hong Kong distributed territory with part of the terminus under the mainland jurisdiction.  With a sweeping view of the ocean, mountains, and rocky islets, the bridge was partially fogged on Wednesday when AFP took an early bus to Macau, but passengers still registered on smartphones the entire trip.
Traffic Was Critically Low Some legislators and local residents have limited public access to the bridge.
"Every large infrastructure has a relatively small volume of passenger and traffic flow in the early stages, and it takes time to build," said Frank Chan, Secretary of Transport and Housing, reporters.
Hong Kong residents were granted only 10,000 licenses to drive private cars to Zhuhai if they met highly selective criteria, including certain mainland homes or important donations to charities in southern Guangdong province.
Most people will need to travel by bus.
Travelers pass through immigration and customs posts at both ends of the bridge.
Chan did not say how many residents of Hong Kong would cover the bridge on Wednesday, but an estimated 30,000 mainland Chinese visitors would make the crossing to Hong Kong on the opening day.
The government had previously said that the bridge would attract 29,000 vehicles daily by 2030.
Bus trips to Zhuhai should take 45 minutes, after four hours.
An early bus ride at Macao's Cotai Casino Hub took about an hour.
"The duration is similar to the ferry, I get a bit dizzy on the ferry, so the bus ride was more convenient," traveler Cheng told AFP after their trip to Macau.