Holiday travel delays fuel calls in China for bridge to Hainan

This year, the number of motoring tourists, particularly those with electric vehicles, increased, resulting in long queues at ferry terminals for passages for their cars.

A Hainan official who refused to be named said places for EVs on ferries were limited under safety guidelines issued by the provincial transport department.

According to Hainan Strait Shipping, which operates passenger services between the island and the mainland, EVs can spontaneously combust and so need to be restricted to designated areas.

Such a fire could spread quickly and be difficult to extinguish, presenting a greater safety risk than traditional vehicles, the company said last weekend.

Each ferry is also limited to carrying no more than 10 per cent of its vehicle capacity in new energy vehicles, with a total not exceeding 18 vehicles.


Chinese airlines on biggest hiring drive in more than 3 years as travel demand rebounds

Chinese airlines on biggest hiring drive in more than 3 years as travel demand rebounds

The answer to the congestion, according to Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member Zhu Lieyu, is to build a bridge over the Qiongzhou Strait between Guangdong and the island.

Zhu, a Guangzhou-based lawyer, said the bridge would ease holiday ticket price spikes and help attract investment projects to the new Hainan free trade port.

It would also link Hainan more closely to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, he said.

Zhu has submitted the idea for discussion at the annual national legislative sessions next month.

Internet users have also asked why China, which has built many mega projects, had not already created a bridge or tunnel to the island.

The Hainan official said the authorities had studied the idea for decades but the complexity and the location of such a structure made the proposal unrealistic.


Bridge in China swamped with tourists during Lunar New Year holiday

Bridge in China swamped with tourists during Lunar New Year holiday

The idea was first floated in 1974 and in that time three routes have been considered.

The easternmost – and shortest – route spans 20km (12½ miles) but is particularly prone to earthquakes.

The middle route would open up a direct link to the capital Haikou but the waters are deep.

The western route, at 32km, involves a flatter seabed but is longer and ends 40km from Haikou, increasing costs.

“We have three choices, but all of them come with one major challenge, the water is much deeper than the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge,” the official said.

The Qiongzhou Strait’s vulnerability to typhoons and earthquakes added to the complexity of construction, he said.

“The Qiongzhou Strait has moderate earthquakes every few decades. It’s also common to see category 12 typhoons during July to September.”

The official said that in 1994 a bridge across the Qiongzhou Strait was estimated to cost around 150 billion yuan to build but the price tag today could be up to 10 times higher.

“Even with funding and approval, construction could take more than a decade. For now, expanding flights to Haikou and Sanya and ferry capacity during peak seasons is seen as a viable short-term solution,” he said.

As a tourist destination, Hainan has big fluctuations in visitors between peak and off-peak seasons and airports and ferries would incur operational costs to meet those demands, the official said.

Tourists were also stranded during the 2018 Lunar New Year holiday when dense fog reduced visibility in the Qiongzhou Strait to below navigational standards, leading to considerable delays for outbound vehicles.


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