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New Big Bridges Proposed for UK

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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A number of bridges that would connect Ireland and Scotland as well as the U.K. and France have been proposed to help expand economic and political opportunities, but only one span currently seems realistic.

According to Dezeen, the Democratic Unionist party has come out in support of a bridge that would connect Northern Ireland and Scotland, whereas the bridge proposed by British politician Boris Johnson, to span the English Channel, has been met with ridicule by industry leaders.

Bridging the Gap

One DUP spokesperson noted that a bridge across the Irish Sea would catalyze the development of more links between the two islands.

According to Scottish architect Alan Dunlop, who also originally suggested the Northern Ireland-Scotland bridge, the construction of the span would cost much less than Johnson’s proposal, and also establish more economic benefits in the two countries.

Hajotthu, CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The proposed span between Scotland and Northern Ireland would be similar to the Øresund Bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden, which has brought economic and social benefits to both countries, according to Dunlop.

According to Dunlop, the amount of shipping traffic on the English Channel is economically prohibitive for building a span there. The architect estimated that a bridge in that area would cost £120 billion ($169 billion), but a span between the two Celtic countries could be built for considerably less—a combined road and rail crossing that would cost £15-£20 billion ($21-$28 billion).

This would be similar to the Øresund Bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden, which has brought economic and social benefits to both countries, according to Dunlop.

Engineering Challenges

Even though the bridge connecting Ireland and Scotland would be 28 miles long, and therefore longer than something that would span the English Channel, it would present less of an engineering challenge.

The biggest obstacle to overcome would be a 2-mile-wide deep-sea trench off the coast of Scotland, but this could be overcome with a floating bridge design, noted the architect.

“A bridge is much better than a tunnel for it is a dramatic, visual marker for the aspirations and ambition of a country in the 21st century and beyond,” Dunlop said.

Johnson’s English Channel bridge would be between the Mull of Kintyre and Torr Head on the Antrim Coast, and while these two areas are only 12 miles apart and the sea is shallower, the four-hour drive from the central belt to Mull of Kintyre would deter the amount of traffic needed to justify the span.


Tagged categories: Bridges; EU; Europe; Infrastructure; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rail

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