Last updated: Thursday August 12th, 2021
Sometimes when you see the map, you find islands/peninsulas that are so close that there should be a bridge or tunnel connecting them. As technology advances, there are more and more mega-engineering projects built, under construction or being proposed. I will go through some significant and interesting ones here.
Connecting UK to France - Channel Tunnel
The first obvious one is of course the Channel Tunnel connecting UK to France and Europe. It is a rail tunnel over 50 km long carrying passenger trains (Eurostar), vehicle trains (Eurotunnel Shuttle) and freight trains. It was opened in 1994 and has the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world.
Connecting Asia to Europe - Bosphorus Bridge
Bosphorus Bridge is the first of the three suspension bridges that span the Bosphorus Strait, connecting Asia to Europe in Istanbul. It has a main span of 1074 metres, making it the longest suspension bridge outside the United States when it was completed in 1973. Since then, the second bridge (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge) was opened in 1988, and the third bridge (Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge) was opened in 2016, alongside the Eurasia Tunnel (opened in 2016) and Marmaray (a commuter rail tunnel opened in 2019).
Connecting Sweden to Denmark - Øresund Bridge
The Øresund Bridge and the Drogden Tunnel connect Malmö in Sweden to Copenhagen in Denmark across the Øresund strait. It is a combined road-rail bridge. The bridge is 8 km long from the Swedish coast to an artificial island in the middle of the strait, and then another 4 km tunnel to Denmark. Constuction began in 1995 and it was opened to traffic in 2000.
Connecting Pearl River Delta - Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
The concept of a road bridge/tunnel between Hong Kong and Macau was first proposed in the 1980s, connecting the British financial hub to the Portuguese gambling centre. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) was completed in 2018 and is the longest open-sea fixed link in the world, with a total length of 55 km. Although it is one country, Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China each maintain their own immigration and custom. Two artificial islands were built, one on each side, for the border crossing facilities.
Connecting Faroe Islands - Eysturoy Tunnel
The Eysturoy Tunnel is a long undersea road tunnel (11 km) in the Faroe Islands connecting the island of Streymoy to the island of Eysturoy. It opened in December 2020 and is the largest infrastructure project ever in the Faroe Islands.
But what so cool about this tunnel is the world first undersea roundabout in the middle of its three-branch tunnel network. The roundabout is decorated with art sculpture and light effect.
Unfortunately I cannot find photo of the tunnel or roundabout in WikiCommons to post here, but you can google it or watch it on Youtube.
Connecting Dubrovnik to Croatia - Pelješac Bridge
The Pelješac Bridge was joined 2 weeks ago, connecting the Dubrovnik exclave with the rest of the country. It is expected to open to traffic in June 2022, so travelling on road to Dubrovnik from the rest of Croatia will no longer need to cross the border twice with Bosnia.
Connecting Sicily to mainland Italy? Strait of Messina Bridge
The idea of a bridge connecting Sicily was there since the Romans time. The current plan of a single suspension bridge would have a central span of 3300 m, making it by far the longest suspension bridge in the world (by comparison, the central span of the Golden Gate Bridge is 1275 m).
It has been abandoned by the Italian parliament in 2006, but as recent as April this year, a private enterprise declared that they had €4 billion ready to build the bridge. So will we see this soon?
Connecting Morocco to Spain? Strait of Gibraltar crossing
The Strait of Gibraltar crossing is a hypothetical bridge/tunnel connecting Morocco and Spain. The narrowest point is only 14 km apart, much shorter than the Channel Tunnel. Spain and Morocco started a joint feasibility study in 1979, and various proposals (bridge/tunnel) were put forward. However, the water is deeper than the English Channel, and it lies on an active major geological fault, making construction complex and costly (estimated to exceed €5 billion).
Connecting Sri Lanka to India? Palk Strait bridge
Sri Lanka was connected to India via Adam's Bridge until it broke in a cyclone in 1480.
India submitted a proposal of a 23-km Palk Strait Bridge to the Asian Development Bank in 2015. However, this was dismissed by Sri Lanka the same year. The bridge makes sense to me, so hopefully we will see this built some time in the future.
Connecting Djibouti to Yemen? Bridge of the Horns
Bridge of the Horns is a proposed bridge across Bab-el-Mandeb connecting Djibouti to Yemen. The bridge will be 29 km long and estimated to cost US$20 billion. One of the uses is to provide East African Muslim easy access to the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. Original planning started in 2009, but with the civil war in Yemen since 2015, it is unlikely to get any further.
Connecting Asia to America? Bering Strait crossing
This is probably one of the wildest ideas. But if Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, then why not?
Seriously, the Bering Strait crossing has been proposed as the missing link in building the intercontinental rail network. The longest single tunnel would be 40 km, which is shorter than the Channel Tunnel. However, to make this work, a lot of infrastructure are required especially in the remote Chukotka region on the Russian side, which is mostly roadless and uninhabited.
There are many other bridges/tunnels and ideas/proposals. If you are interested, let me know which one I should feature and I'll consider writing another blog. Thank you for reading.