The government is insisting on building a Y-shaped bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau and the rest of the west bank of the Pearl River Delta, while Shenzhen is likely to be bypassed in the final route design. Yesterday, Mr Tung seemed to have ruled out the possibility of providing an additional link to Shekou in Shenzhen, proposed in a study commissioned by the 2022 Foundation. Although he did not outline details of the route, he said: 'A bridge linking Hong Kong to Macau and the western part of the Pearl River Delta will be of strategic importance to the development of the whole region.' Mr Tung said the central government had instructed the State Development Planning Commission to carry out a detailed feasibility study. The government has said privately that an additional link to Shekou would be too long and unnecessary because the Western Corridor linking Shekou and Yuen Long will open in 2005. Mr Tung believed that the bridge would be built soon through the joint efforts of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. Zheng Tianxiang, a Guangdong academic responsible for the alternative study, said his proposal of providing an additional link to Shenzhen could best balance the interests of Hong Kong, Macau, Zhuhai and Shenzhen. Professor Zheng, an adviser to the Guangdong government, said it was unlikely that the proposed bridge would win approval this year. 'Differences between various cities have to be ironed out first. I think the project will start next year at the earliest,' he said. Mr Tung also said the government would study the feasibility of a new express railway linking Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.