GUANGDONG will experience an unprecedented road and rail construction boom over the next 15 years as the provincial administration seeks to weave Hong Kong and Macau into the fabric of the region. More than $80 billion is earmarked for the development of 16 expressway projects under the 1996-2000 Ninth Five-Year Plan. A similar sum is likely to be invested between 2000 and 2010 on another nine highway projects. Add to this expansion of the rail network, a replacement Guangzhou airport and new power stations, including two nuclear power plants, and Guangdong is set for an infrastructure explosion. The amount to be spent on roads alone is projected to be double that earmarked for highway construction in Hong Kong over the same period. The most prominent projects due for completion by 2000 include a new Huanggang road link to Shenzhen connecting with the Western Corridor Railway, and the 120-kilometre Guangzhou-Shenzhen expressway. Other schemes are a corridor highway in Shenzhen and two new expressways between Guangzhou and Zhuhai. One will follow an easterly route, the other a western course. Tiger Gate (Humen) Bridge, linking Humen-Taiping and Nansha, is expected to be completed next year and the Lingdingyang Bridge, a 56-kilometre span between Zhuhai and Hong Kong, by 2006. Five expressways are planned: Huizhou to Shenzhen; Guangzhou to Qingyuan; Foshan to Kaiping; Guangzhou to Zhaoqing; and the 1,500-kilometre Guangdong section of China's new coastal highway. These will form the basis of the Pearl River Delta ringroad which will be supplemented by road construction in the next two five-year plans. In the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005) six projects are proposed, linking Guangzhou to Baiyun, Kaiping to Zhanjiang, Huizhou to Heyuan and Meizhou, Qingyuan to Shaoguan, and Yangjiang to Zhuhai. This interlinking of South China's cities will continue under the 11th Five-Year Plan with special emphasis on improving Guangdong's connections with adjacent provinces. Five projects are proposed to connect Shaoguan with Pingshi in Jiangxi, Shantou with Wusheng Guan to the east, Zhaoqing with Wuzhou to the west, and Zhanjiang with Hai'an and Suixigaoqiao to the south. These projects will be built using direct central or provisional government money or through private investment either by Hong Kong-based developers or via the proceeds of toll roads. GZI Transport - the infrastructure arm of the Guangzhou city Government specifically set up to operate toll highways throughout Guangdong - is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. It has just entered into conditional agreements to buy three sections of toll highway near Guangzhou for $415 million. Earlier this year it announced plans to spend $300 million to finance Guangzhou's second northern ringroad. Another provincial government offshoot - Guangdong Provincial Expressway Development Shareholding Company - has been created. It proposes to launch a share issue later this year to finance a 105 km highway from Dianbai to Zhanjiang. Rail projects will play a similar cohesive role, not only helping bind Hong Kong and Macau to China's railway system, but also improving communications between the eastern and western hinterland of the Pearl River estuary. Three key schemes have been proposed up to 2016: an east-west Shenzhen route; a line from Guangzhou via Doumen to Macau, Zhuhai and Gaolan Island; and a Deep Bay rail crossing from Shekou to Yuen Long. The Shenzhen route will become one of the most important stretches of railway as it links Yantian and Shekou ports, and connects with the Kowloon-Beijing railway. These transport projects will have a huge influence on the future development of Hong Kong. The Yantian-Shekou harbour connection, for example, is set to unleash a surge of development at both ports that is likely to affect the future growth of Kwai Chung container port. Some issues raised by these schemes will be covered by the cross-links study which seven consultants, including MVA and Mouchel Asia, are preparing for the Planning Department. The report will focus on the effect construction of the Lingdingyang Bridge and other highway and rail schemes are likely to have on Hong Kong's road network up to 2020. Power supplies will also become more closely integrated as Guangdong and Hong Kong embark on massive investments. China Light & Power (CLP) already has major stakes in the Daya Bay nuclear plant, the Guangzhou-pumped storage station at Conghua and a 1,050-megawatt gas-fired combined cycle plant in Qianwan, Shenzhen. Further significant shareholdings are expected to be made with the development of the 1,950-megawatt Ling Ao nuclear power plant close to Daya Bay and another nuclear station about 80 km west of Macau. Under the Ninth Five-Year Plan, China wants to increase capacity by about 60,000 megawatts to 290,000 megawatts by 2000. This is equivalent to seven new power stations a year. Many of these are expected to be built in the south and east of the country where demand for electricity is strongest. This development could lead to the resurrection of plans for completion of the 3,600-megawatt Black Point power station near Tuen Mun, which have been delayed until early next century following a row over Hong Kong's huge excess-power capacity. An agreement on cross-border power transmission has been in effect for some time: CLP has the right to half the generating capacity of the Conghua plant. This agreement could be extended to put power development and electricity 'exportation' on a more formal footing.