“At 11.39 last night the first of a long procession of vehicles drove through the cross-harbour tunnel from the Kowloon end – six minutes before the tunnel was officially opened to Hongkong’s motoring public,” reported the South China Morning Post on August 4, 1972, under the headline “Tunnel opens”.
“Their appearance three minutes later at the Hongkong end of the tunnel made ‘anxious’ Hongkong drivers lose their cool. They started reving [sic] their engines, creating a tremendous din. The tunnel guards eventually allowed them to drive through the tunnel three minutes earlier than the official opening time – 11.45pm.
“Within the first 15 minutes of the tunnel’s opening over 700 vehicles [...] had driven through it.
“The first driver from Hongkong to use the tunnel was Mr M. McMillan, a construction superintendent with the tunnel company.
“‘I wanted to feel how it is like to drive through the tunnel which I helped to build,’” were his first words to reporters.
“A mini-bus driver who crossed to Kowloon said he just wanted ‘to feel how it is driving under the sea.’”
The tunnel was a long time coming. In an April 4, 1969 story, under the headline, “At last, after 66 years a tunnel for Hongkong”, the Post’s business editor wrote: “The cross-harbour tunnel has at last been taken out of the realm of speculation. Last night it was announced that agreement in principle had been given to a loan and that it is only a matter of time now before the final contracts are signed and work begins.”
First mention of a cross-harbour tunnel in the pages of the Post was made by reader L. Koon, in letters to the editor, on November 29, 1920. “Sir–In your publication of today’s date ‘Vox Populi’ advocates the bridging of the harbour ... such a gigantic structure would be a hindrance to navigation and a source of expense when you consider the element of typhoons […] If a quick, cheap and easy crossing of the harbour is really required, a tunnel would be more practicable.”