Ting Kau Bridge and its approach viaduct is the latest in a long line of world- first engineering projects that stand Hong Kong proud. The bridge and viaduct link the Tai Lam Tunnel and Tsing Yi sections of Route Three across Rambler Channel. Valued at $1.73 billion, the design- and-build contract was awarded to Ting Kau Contractors Joint Venture in August 1994. Despite construction delays, the joint-venture team is proud of the project's completion in only 44 months. The joint venture was a truly international affair, comprising Grupo Acciona SA of Spain (formerly Cubiertas Y Mzov and Entrecanales y), Ed Zublin AG of Germany, Downer and Co, of New Zealand, and Paul Y Construction of Hong Kong. With its three single-leg towers, the cable-stayed bridge is the outstanding structure of the road link and the most visually stunning feature. An unique aspect of the towers is the arrangement of cross struts and transverse stabilisation cables, designed to withstand extremely high winds. During the planning process, extensive wind tunnel tests on models were carried out at a specialist laboratory in Ontario, Canada. The foundation of the soaring central tower is located on a man-made island reclaimed in the middle of Rambler Channel, which involved the dredging of 271,000 square metres of marine mud. The island was then built, using about 502,000 sq m of rock and sand. Each bridge deck carries three traffic lanes and a hard shoulder. With a total cable supported length of 1,177 metres, Ting Kau is among the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world. Domingo Vegas, the joint venture's projector director, said at its peak the project head office employed 200 people and 800 labourers on site. Twenty-seven nationalities worked on the project, he said. 'It is a very special bridge for a number of reasons. Physically, it's a very slender project in appearance, the amount of cables used is unique, and the feature of having two main spans instead of one, while not unique, is certainly rare. The result is an elegant, simple structure.' The tight construction time-frame involved was always going to be a problem, Mr Vegas said. 'We had some technical difficulties during construction, partly related to the originality of the design and also problems with ground conditions.' The ground conditions involved technical difficulties in securing the bridge foundations, a problem which delayed the project's completion. The bridge's approach viaduct is eye-catching. The dual three-lane approach viaduct and two two-lane ramps soar 60 metres above the ground. The steep slopes and near-vertical rock face adjacent to the Tuen Mun Highway had to be cut back to accommodate an additional traffic lane and the new ramps and about 500,000 sq m of rock had to be removed with as little impact on traffic flow as possible.