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As an ancillary project of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), the Hong Kong government started to plan the Tuen Mun – Chek Lap Kok Link (TM-CLKL) early in 2007. Not only the TM-CLKL is beneficial to the residents living in the north and west of the New Territories to travel back and forth between the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and New Territories, the TM-CLKL is also an integral link to improve the transportation network of the area near the HKIA and the HZMB.

Overview of the Tuen Mun – Chek Lap Kok Link

The design of the TM-CLKL is very complicated and the nine-km link is divided into two parts: The Southern Connection and the Northern Connection. The Southern Connection is a 1.6-km viaduct that links North Lantau and HZMB Hong Kong Port together while the Northern Connection is a five-km sub-sea road tunnel i.e. the Tuen Mun - Chek Lap Kok Tunnel (Northern Connection tunnel) that links Pillar Point in Tuen Mun South and HZMB Hong Kong Port together.

Being an enormous construction project, the TM-CLKL was plagued by significant delay, the two Connections were completed and put into service in stages: in 2018, the South Connections has already been put into service, while the awaited North Connection was finally opened to traffic in late December, 2020.


The TM-CLKL is a new strategic road to Hong Kong, followed by its commencement, the link provides a more convenient and direct route for citizens to travel back and forth between New Territories West and North to the HKIA and its adjacent transportation network. The link also effectively reduces the journey time: only ten minutes is need to travel between Tuen Mun South and the HKIA, compared with the original route, the journey time reduces by approximately 20 minutes.

Moreover, the TM-CLKL serves as an alternative route of the Lantau Link to connect HKIA and the urban area in Hong Kong. Theoretically, it can also re-distribute the traffic flow of the Lantau area and the HKIA area so as to alleviate the burden of the North Lantau Highway, Lantau Link and Tuen Mun Road, leading a smoother traffic situation.

To cater to the opening of the TM-CLKL, the government has waived the tolls of the Lantau Link and the TM-CLKL since the 27 December 2020 to facilitate the utilization of different traffic options to ease the traffic burden in particular areas and relive the burden of the citizens, public transport operators and transportation industry on transport fares.

Introduction: Southern Connection (Shun Long Road)

The TM-CLKL Southern Connection is also named as Shun Long Road, which has been opened in 2018 simultaneously with the HZMB. The HK$8 billion Southern Connection links North Lantau to the HZMB Hong Kong Port. Other than the 1.6-km dual two-lane viaduct mentioned above, the Southern Connection works also comprised the construction of a 1.9-km land viaduct, nine elevated splitroads and related ancillary works including environmental mitigation measures and slope improvement works.

The Southern Connection provides a clear navigable width of 110 metres and a maximum air draft of +21mPD respectively. (Editor’s Note: the air draft is a measurement of the navigable height, which allows a vessel, i.e. a ship or a boat, to pass through safely between the lowest point of a bridge or elevated facilities and the surface of the water; another related measurement is called “navigable width”. According to the information provided from the Marine Department, to avoid collision, there will be seven restricted areas under the alignment of the Southern Connection with different navigable width and height.)

Throughout the construction of the Southern Connection, a total of 289 large diameter piles and more than 2,600 precast bridge deck segments were used.

Introduction: Northern Connection

The Northern Connection of the TM-CLKL has received a lot of attention in recent years as the design of the project itself is enormous and complicated.

With a total width of 5.5 kilometres, there is a five-km sub-sea road tunnel connecting Tuen Mun South and the HZMB Hong Kong Port, i.e. Tuen Mun – Chek Lap Kok Tunnel is opened for traffic in late 2020 with a cost of HK$44.8 billion. It was originally expected to be completed in 2016, however, a four-year delay was resulted due to different reasons.

Nevertheless, after seven years of hard work, the Northern Connection tunnel has gained a lot of attention as it is a pioneering project with a lot of record shattered. The tunnel is now the longest and deepest road tunnel, it is also the first time in Hong Kong that a tunnel is excavated down to the seabed, where it is 60 metres under the surface of water, it hugely reduces the impact posted to the surrounding areas. Moreover, the largest tunnel boring machine in the world, “Qin Liangyu”, was used to excavate the tunnel to enhance the efficiency of the works and reduce construction time, hence, less damage will be cause during the boring works.

In the meantime, for a more convenient and better management of the tunnel in later times, this is also the first time in Hong Kong to set up a service galley under a road tunnel. The service galley also serves as a storage space for electrical and mechanical facilities, fire service equipment and bi-directional electric vehicles etc. If maintenance and repairing works are needed, the works can be carried out in daytime without affecting normal traffic, maintenance schedule will therefore become more flexible and convenient.

Ancillary Works

The Northern Connection tunnel had experienced many challenges before its opening, the design of the alignment has been revised in the middle of the construction. As an ancillary work of the development of the Northern Connection tunnel, the Tuen Mun West Bypass (TMWB) was shelved and finally, there are news revealing that a new bypass named “Tuen Mun Bypass” is proposed to be built to replace the TMWB to work as a link road of the Northern Connection tunnel recently. Instead of Tuen Mun West, the Tuen Mun Bypass will detour to Tuen Mun East to connect the tunnel. However, the above bypass is still in the planning stage, therefore, the ancillary transportation facilities of the tunnel are inadequate and not satisfactory, leading to traffic jam back into the Tuen Mun District as the car flow of the two main roads in Tuen Mun, i.e. Lung Fu Road and Wong Chu Road cannot be diverted. Hence, until the Tuen Mun Bypass is completed, it is worried that the traffic situation is still be a severe problem in the Tuen Mun District.

It is claimed that the government is proposed to construct “Route 11” to in line with the development of the TM-CLKL and its surrounding area. Before the commencement of Route 11’s works, the government would also like to carry out widening and improvement works for the above two roads and Hoi Wing Road in Tuen Mun, yet, related measures are still under discussion and waiting for further plans. It is expected that the overall goal is to finish the works in 2031, while some scholars predicted that the works would be finished in 2036.


Social-wise, the completion of the TM-CLKL has definitely provided a new option for Hong Kong citizens to choose for their transportation plans. In Hong Kong, a hustling cosmopolitan aiming at efficiency, this direct transportation route saves more time for the hard working citizens. At the same time, Chak Lap Kok is the one of the essential destinations leading Hong Kong to the Mainland China and the other parts of the globe, the completion of the project also improves the traffic network of the HKIA and HZMB Hong Kong port area, as well as connecting the urban areas of Hong Kong, further enhance the accessibility of different places in the city.

Meanwhile, the entire construction project has utilised innovative construction techniques and strategies, the Northern Connection tunnel can be considered as one of the pioneer projects, which is in line with the innovative direction that the construction industry is advocating right now.

Nonetheless, Hong Kong is well known for its complicated transportation network, therefore, while infrastructure and road works are underway, plenty of uncertain factors will be involved and affect the outcome of the works, often leads to public concerns regarding the huge difference from the original plans. Being no exception, the planning of the Hong Kong transportation network is always under the spotlight of different stakeholders, challenges and lurking problems were also revealed throughout the whole schedule of the TM-CLKL project. Stakeholders may reflect on issues including figuring out a solution to strike a balance between the planning and necessity of development, as well as the public accessibility.

Complimentary copies available to members of the following associations:

The Hong Kong Construction Association
Macau Coustruction Association
Hong Kong General Building Contractors Association
Hong Kong Institute of Utility Specialists
China Hongkong Society for Trenchless Technology Association
Hong Kong Construction Materials Association Limited
Contractor's Authorised Signatory Association
Hong Kong Construction Machinery Association