a large bridge over a body of water© Handouta large bridge over a body of water© Handout

The structural safety of the multibillion-dollar Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge could be put to the test by a super typhoon predicted to be the most powerful in Hong Kong’s history, an engineering expert has warned.

That came as Super Typhoon Mangkhut edged ever closer to Hong Kong, prompting residents to take precautionary measures to safeguard their properties.

Predicted to be the most powerful storm since records began, with maximum sustained winds of up to 205km/h (127mph), the tropical cyclone is forecast to pass within 100km (62mph) of the city on Sunday morning.

Concerns had previously been raised over the structural safety of the city’s mega projects especially the bridge linking Hong Kong to Zhuhai and Macau as the main stretch was situated in the Pearl River Estuary’s Lingdingyang waters and prone to strong winds.

The 55km (34 mile) bridge, which is expected to open this year, reportedly has a design lifespan of 120 years and is built to resist wind speeds of up to 201km/h (125mph).

In April, interlocking concrete blocks placed around the edges of an artificial island – which connects the Hong Kong bridge section to a tunnel in mainland China waters – sparked safety fears as they appeared to have drifted.

a close up of a building© Nora Tam

But the bridge authority later clarified the blocks, known as dolosse and which serve as protection against breaking waves, were specially designed to be submerged in a “random manner” to avoid exerting too much pressure on the undersea tunnel.

It also stressed the location withstood the devastating Typhoon Hato last year. But Mangkhut is deemed to be stronger than Hato, which packed wind speeds of up to 185km/h (114mph).

a close up of a swimming pool© SCMP

Structural and geotechnical engineer Ngai Hok-yan said the artificial islands in mainland waters and at the Macau side would face a greater risk from Mangkhut than the one at Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok which was partly protected by Lantau Island.

“Whether the bridge can withstand the…

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