Kvaerner-Costain-Mitsui, an Anglo-Japanese joint venture, was awarded the $7.1 billion contract to build the Tsing Ma Bridge in 1992. Project director Nick Hobson said the company immediately appointed three first-tier subcontractors, mainly consisting of firms owned or part-owned by the joint- venture partners. Gammon Construction (50 per cent owned by Kvaerner) was awarded the contract for site mobilisation, reclamation, excavation and back fill, constructing the Ma Wan tower foundations and building the ship-impact protection areas around the bridge towers. A joint venture was formed between Mitsui and Costain to produce the substructure concrete works, anchorages and build the towers and piers. A third contract was awarded to the Cleveland-MES consortium which was given responsibility for superstructure works, engineering, supply, fabrication, assembly and erection. Mr Hobson said the scale of the project had presented unique engineering challenges. It was important reclamation and excavation work started as soon as possible and the company felt that Gammon Construction's experience would allow the project to get off to a good start. 'Because Gammon was able to meet the high expectations required of them in completing the excavation work, the Mitsui-Costain joint venture was able to make good progress with constructing the anchorages in preparation for cable spinning work to begin on time,' he said. Major on-site operations consisted of excavation work on Ma Wan to form the foundations for the Ma Wan tower, constructing the twin 206-metre towers by slipforming and constructing the reinforced concrete anchorages, which were 'dramatic constructions' in their own right. Mr Hobson said because the bridge carried both road and rail traffic, the components of the structure were much heavier than those of the world's longest suspension bridge over the River Humber in England. It has a total deck weight of 17,000 tonnes and cables that weigh 11,000 tonnes. Tsing Ma's deck weight is 50,000 tonnes and the cables weigh 28,000 tonnes.