Australian Bridge Proposal Sparks Debate
A proposal for a 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) bridge to connect Australia’s mainland to the natural tourist haven of Kangaroo Island has provoked intense discussion among politicians and neighbors of what would be a AU$5 billion ($3.71 billion) project.
A venture called Universal Bridging Consortium introduced the proposal last month, arguing that Kangaroo Island—a spot noted for its biodiversity and natural beauty—is “woefully isolated” despite being the closest major Australian island to a large city, and is “strangled in its isolation.” UBC would ostensibly be the designer and builder of the structure if it were to come to fruition.
But the mayor of Kangaroo Island, Peter Clements, called the plan “a bridge over troubled waters,” and said an influx of new tourism is “not what we want.” He also noted that a new bridge would likely be detrimental to ferry businesses serving the island.
“We're trying to protect something very, very precious over here on Kangaroo Island and this is all about our branding and about doing the right thing by the island,” Clements told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
UBC, the firm behind the plan, is headed up by John Noonan, a recent candidate for federal office in South Australia representing the SA Best party, and the plan has been endorsed by Frank Pangallo, a member of Parliament who’s also a member of SA Best. Pangallo is attempting to get AU$100,000 in funding for a feasibility study for the bridge concept.
Multiple Cable-Stayed Spans
The UBC team says its idea for the design of the bridge is based on Greece’s Rio-Antirrio Bridge, the 2.9-kilometer bridge across the Gulf of Corinth that comprises four cable-stayed spans. That bridge, which opened in 2004, reportedly cost 630 million euros—about $790 million according to the exchange rate at the time—to build.
The Kangaroo Island bridge would, according to the preliminary concept, consist of a series of 400-meter-long cable-stayed spans, connecting a point south of Cape Jervis, on the mainland south of Adelaide, with Penneshaw, on the island. There is currently a ferry between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw; the proponents of the bridge say it will cut the time of a trip between the mainland and the island from about 90 minutes to about 15.
Rebekha Sharkie, a member of the Centre Alliance party, came out in opposition to the bridge plan when it was unveiled in late July, and won an election to represent the division of Mayo—where the bridge would be built—days later.