A NEW bridge connecting Ap Lei Chau with Aberdeen opens this morning at 10.30 am, and the Government says it should be enough to cope with growing traffic on the island well into the next century. ''It all depends on the rate of development on Ap Lei Chau,'' said the Director of Highways, Kwong Hong-sang. ''But with a major development like this we would expect it to cope with the pressure for quite a number of years.'' Mr Kwong was the first person to drive across the bridge at the opening ceremony yesterday. But the celebratory speeches were held up for 10 minutes by a torrential downpour that had the VIPs scurrying for shelter under government-issue umbrellas. The second bridge is an exact copy of the first and has been built next to it. Traffic will go one way southbound on the existing bridge, and one way northbound towards Aberdeen on the new one. Senior engineer (traffic engineering) Hong Kong Island Joanna Kwok Tam Yuk-ying said: ''At the moment we have a maximum capacity of 1,900 vehicles each way during the peak hour. With the new bridge we are expecting that to increase to 5,600 vehicles per hour. ''Taking into account all the planned developments on Ap Lei Chau our projection is that there will be a maximum of 3,200 vehicles an hour using the bridge in 2001.'' Construction on the dual lane concrete bridge started two years ago and has finished on time and well within the budget of $110 million, with the cost expected to be as low as $90 million. Together with approach roads, the project involved constructing 480 metres of bridge. The main span across Aberdeen Harbour is 115 metres long and clears the water by at least 16 metres to allow boats to pass safely underneath. As well as traffic, the bridge has a walkway for pedestrians. Underneath the walkway the bridge carries extra services for the public utilities including water mains, gas pipes, electrical cables and telephone lines.