Bridge too far – Hong Kong Marathon likely to lose Tsing Ma Bridge forever
Organisers say complaints by road users about congestion means an iconic part of the route is unlikely to ever return
One of the most iconic and popular sections of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon – the Tsing Ma Bridge – is unlikely to ever return as part of the route, organisers said on Tuesday.
The bridge, which had become one of the beloved traditions of the Hong Kong race, is once again excluded from this year’s 42.195km marathon route because of complaints by road users.
“The chance is very slim [of using the Tsing Ma Bridge in future],” said Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association chairman Kwan Kee. “We have to strike a balance for the runners and road users as we understand the bridge is pivotal to airport traffic and residents of Tung Chung New Town.
“Because we do have a route without using the bridge, why not?”
The Tsing Ma Bridge has been used for the marathon for over a decade until it was excluded from last year’s route. However, even when the bridge was part of the route, organisers could use only half of the structure because three Hong Kong airport-bound lanes were kept open for traffic.
The two lower decks were also in operation for traffic leaving the airport and Tung Chung.
In 2016, road users complained that congestion in the lower decks created a queue of more than two kilometres, causing inconvenience to motorists.
Meanwhile, road closures for the Sunday event will start at 11.30pm on Saturday night – the earliest near Ting Kau Bridge in the New Territories.
Part of the Island Eastern Corridor near the Victoria Park will be closed at 1.30am on Sunday while the Western Harbour Crossing Hong Kong-bound tube will be closed at 12.45am. The Kowloon-bound tube will remain open to normal traffic.
Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, which will be used for the start of the marathon and half-marathon, will be closed at 1.40am and reopen at about 9.45am.
All the roads are expected to be reopened by 2pm on Sunday, depending on the actual finishing time of the runners and the completion of safety clearance.
The Transport Department expects traffic at various locations to be significantly more congested when compared with normal Sundays such as Shau Kei Wan, North Point, Tin Hau, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Central Ferry Pier areas in Hong Kong Island.
Slow traffic is also expected in the Yau Tsim Mong area, including the vicinity of Nathan Road and Arygle Street, Wylie Road, Gascoigne Road flyover, West Kowloon Highway and the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Kowloon and the Kowloon-bound Lantau Link and North West Tsing Yi Interchange in New Territories South.
A full quota of 74,000 runners have been enrolled for all three events – the 10k, half-marathon and marathon.