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History is littered with bridges designed to do the impossible. One example, Euroroute (pictured above), would literally take drivers through the White Cliffs of Dover to an island five miles into the English Channel where a tunnel would bring drivers the twenty remaining miles to France. This bridge designs was never built of course but the dream existed.
Today bridges are being designed that would cast shadows over Euroroute’s proposed span. Here’s what is being planned.
Fehmarn Belt Bridge: Germany and Denmark have agreed upon building a 19km long bridge in between the two countries in the Fehmarn Belt region, and in that way shorten the trip between Scandinavia and central Europe. The construction of the bridge will be financed mostly by Denmark, with 4.8 billion euros, and Germany with 800 million Euros. The bridge will have two levels, one for road traffic, and one for rail. The start of construction is expected in 2011, and its opening in 2018. (Source: Javno)
Bering Strait Bridge: The 55 mile long bridge across the Bering Strait would connect Asia and North America for the first time since the continents touched each other. At an estimated cost of 15 to 25 billion dollars this proposal is not only expensive but fraught with challenge. Ice breakup after each winter is violent and would destroy normal bridge piers. Specially shaped massive piers along the ocean floor would be needed to keep the bridge stable. (video – Map)
Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge: Being situated at the waters of Lingdingyang of Pearl River Estuary, is a large sea crossing linking the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Zhuhai City of Guangdong Province and Macao Special Administrative Region. The functions of the bridge is to meet the demand of passenger and freight land transport among Hong Kong, the Mainland and Macao, to establish a new land transport link between the east and west coasts of the Pearl River, and to enhance the economic and sustainable development in the three places. (Source: Hong Kong Highways Dept.)
Strait of Gibraltar Bridge: One of the great challenges to the bridge and structural engineering profession is the design and construction of a fixed bridge spanning the Strait of Gibraltar. Several engineers have advanced designs for the Gibraltar Bridge on various alignments and with differing structural configurations but it was Professor T.Y. Lin’s proposal that captured the attention of the world. This design is different. With its 14km length, deep piers, and unprecedented 5000 meter spans Lin’s proposed crossing is innovative but, considering an estimated cost of over 15 Billion dollars and the lack of approval for this nearly 10 year old design, we doubt it will ever be built.
Straight Of Gibraltar Island Bridge: Eugene Tsui, a US architect has an alternative idea for the Straight Of Gibraltar, in fact it could become the longest bridge in the world spanning the Strait of Gibraltar and connecting the continents of Europe and Africa. This revolutionary design does not resemble any existing bridge and features an original floating and submerging concept while creating a three mile wide floating island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. From this newly created island a person could view both the European and African continents for the first time in human history. If construction ever begins it will be the biggest architectural project in the world. (Source: tdrinc
The following bridge proposals are in so new that we could not locate any design drawings but you don’t need the drawings to grasp their awesome size:
The Sunda Strait Bridge is a planned road and railway connection between the two Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java. After years of discussion and planning, eventually in October 2007 the Indonesian government gave the initial go-ahead for what will become the world’s longest suspension bridge, across the 26km (16mi) Sunda Strait. The $10bn project is for a series of bridges carrying a six lane highway and double track railway traversing three islands. The project’s greatest challenge is the fact that the strait lies in one of the world’s most dangerous earthquake zones. Sumatra is frequently rocked by significant tremors and more than 230,000 people were killed when a 9.0-magnitude quake in December 2004 triggered a tsunami. Many active volcanoes lies in the area, including Krakatoa only 40km away. (Source: Wikipedia – Map)
Look at a map of the world, and Qatar and Bahrain are so close that you would assume there was a ferry crossing between the two gulf countries. In fact, there is no way to enter the country except for a round trip through Saudi. The Bahrain-Qatar bridge, at 40 kilometres long, will be the longest bridge in the world, and it is estimated that it will take over four years to complete. Due to its length, the causeway will not consist of a single bridge but of a number of roads on dams connected by individual bridges, with a central island in the middle of the causeway. The has been planned for many years, but talks and plans have been moving ahead in recent months and work is now planned to start in May 2008. (Source: Qatar Visitor | Feasibility Study)
While these bridges are challenging, expensive and some are unlikely to be constructed the most impressive of the bunch is already built! Meet France’s Millau Bridge:
Millau Bridge: Towering 1,125ft above the Tarn Valley in southern France, driving along the Millau Bridge, the largest cable-stayed vehicular bridge in the world, is said to feel like flying. This Foster + Partners marvel is slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower, took three years to build and opened to the public in 2004. While it may provide picturesque views of the valley below, once the mist descends it is not a route for the faint hearted! The Millau Bridge has a total length of 8,071ft with the longest single span at 1,122ft and a maximum clearance below of 886ft; in short the bridge is massively impressive both on paper and in real life. The deck is lofted on 7 pylons and weighs 36,000 tonnes. A series of 7 masts, each 292ft tall and weighing 700 tonnes, are attached to the corresponding pylons. (Source: Frikoo | Construction Photos)
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