The government of Macau has commissioned a study into the feasibility of constructing at least one two-lane traffic tunnel linking the southern island of Taipa with the Macau Peninsula.

According to a notice published in the Official Gazette, CCCC Highway Consultants Company Limited, which is a subsidiary of state-owned transportation infrastructure firm China Communications Construction Company, has received just over $900,000 to carry out the research with a finished report expected sometime during middle of next year.

The two areas are already connected by the 1.6-mile Governor Nobre De Carvalho Bridge and its cable-stayed successors, the Sai Van Bridge and the Amizade Bridge, while the idea of digging a tunnel between the two areas goes back some ten years to Edmund Ho, the first Chief Executive for the Macau Special Administrative Region.

August saw Raimundo Arrais Do Rosario, head of the Secretariat For Transport And Public Works, unveil plans to construct a fourth road bridge to link Macau’s reclaimed Zone A to Taipa’s Pac On ferry terminal while he used the occasion to propose building a fifth or a new tunnel near the Governor Nobre De Carvalho Bridge (the “Old Bridge”).

“It [has become] necessary to carry out a feasibility study to determine the characteristics [such as the] length and height of the tunnels, the execution method for the works and the location of the tunnels’ entries as well as assess potential impacts from the works on Governor Nobre De Carvalho Bridge,” read a statement from the Secretariat For Transport And Public Works.

Eddie Wu, Council President for the Macau Society Of Civil And Structural Engineers, told local broadcaster Teledifusao De Macau that any tunnel under Praia Grande Bay would have to be located at least 164 feet away from the Governor Nobre De Carvalho Bridge to avoid adversely affecting that structure’s stability. He additionally warned that a new thoroughfare would lead to increased amounts of traffic.

“Both sides of the Governor Nobre De Carvalho Bridge are actually busy,” said Wu. “The shore opposite to Taipa, which is actually the location of reclaimed Zone B and Ocean Garden, that means more space to build up the traffic network. On the contrary, the Macau side has to consider the connecting point and the connecting position.”

Kuok Keng Man, a convener with the Transport Advisory Committee, told Teledifusao De Macau that the government should complete its master plan for the reclaimed areas around both ends of the Governor Nobre De Carvalho Bridge before building any tunnels.

“If an underwater tunnel really must be constructed, it has to come out somewhere,” said Man. “If there are already buildings there when the tunnel is being dug up, it would be more difficult to find a place for the tunnel entrance. I think it’s worthwhile to plan earlier and think earlier.”