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The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. [Photo/VCG]

Important contributors to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge said they felt a sense of pride and accomplishment upon hearing State leaders" recognition of the mega project on Tuesday.

They said the ceremony was a perfect souvenir for their more than 10 years of contributions to the 55-kilometer sea span. And they look forward to seeing the bridge bring benefits to the public.

Lin Ming, 61, chief engineer and general manager for the bridge"s island and tunnel project, met with President Xi Jinping at the bridge"s east artificial island after the ceremony.

He was among the 20 representatives of the bridge"s 50,000 builders. He said all were touched by Xi"s expressions of appreciation for all their hard work and his recognition of the bridge"s quality and value.

Quoting Xi, who described the bridge as a "key instrument of the nation", Lin said he felt the president knew the project really well and his compliments came "from the bottom of his heart".

Having spent about 12 years on the bridge"s most technically challenging section, Lin said Xi"s recognition gave him "a sense of life accomplishment".

"It was worth all my endeavors on the project," he said.

Su Yi, finance department manager and assistant to the director of the bridge operator - the HZMB Authority - said the ceremony demonstrated that the country has attached great importance to the bridge, as two State leaders attended and the ceremony was officiated by a national-level official.

Noting that all the top officials at the ceremony had mentioned the bridge"s importance to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Su said what is really crucial is how it can serve as a platform to spur more cross-border exchanges and coordination, and stimulate more policy-level breakthroughs in the area as a whole.

"No matter what, with the bridge opening, the concept of a one-hour living circle was no longer just empty talk," Su said.

Having worked on the bridge for 14 years, Su - who also serves as head of the bridge"s Working Group on Cross-boundary Policy Research - acknowledged that there is still room to simplify cross-border policies between the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and the mainland, such as quotas for cross-border vehicles and immigration and customs procedures.

He said the group will review policies and traffic volume on a regular basis, and gradually relax restrictions to better serve the public"s needs.

Traffic will start flowing over the bridge on Wednesday. Su said he wants to know whether the current policies are convenient enough for passengers and how heavy actual traffic volume will be after all the research and forecasts.

Su estimated that in the first year of operation, the bridge would handle about 10,000 vehicles and 50,000 passenger trips daily.

Liu Xiaodong, a major designer of the whole project and the chief designer of the island and tunnel section, agreed with Su.

Liu said top leaders" sincere compliments had brought his 14 years of work to a perfect end. Next, he hopes the bridge will provide the public with convenient and quality transport, as it was envisioned to do. He also hoped it would be well utilized to promote economic development within the Bay Area.

He also hoped the bridge will be well maintained and managed, keeping it in good condition as long as possible.

Liu was also the chief designer of the Shenzhen Bay Bridge, which opened in 2007 and connected Shenzhen with Hong Kong. He hoped all the experience he collected in the construction and management of the two cross-border projects will be well preserved.