Macao Friendship Bridge

Channel Bridge - A Bridge Too Far? UPDATE

UPDATE Boris Johnson’s plans for a new link between the UK and Europe could be coming closer to reality after Eurotunnel contacted the Government to discuss the proposals.

"Mr Johnson’s comments are a good endorsement for a fixed link across the English Channel. Whether it’s a bridge or a tunnel, which would be decided on environmental grounds, Eurotunnel would be part of the process."

John Keefe, Eurotunnel spokesman.

On Thursday 18th Jan, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson ran an idea by French President Emmanuel Macron, which would see France and the UK build a 22-mile bridge across the channel to enhance transport links.

Boris said it was 'ridiculous' that two of the world’s biggest economies are only linked by a single railway line and that 'such feats of engineering have been achieved in Japan'. The longest road bridge in the world is the Hong Kong Zhuhai to Macau road bridge at 34 miles at a cost of £12 billion.

President Macron is understood to have responded positively with an agreement that a second link should be built. It was also at the same meeting that Emmanuel Macron offered to loan Britain the Bayeux tapestry as a gesture of friendship.

But the UK Chamber of Shipping tweeted bluntly:

"Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges."

A study, which was carried out by the government found that 250 tankers a week pass through the English Channel within the UK's territorial waters.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said the costs and practical implications of a bridge across the Channel would be "enormous".

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said:

"We're better off spending smaller amounts of money on improving our crumbling roads and opening more lorry parks.

"The Strait of Dover is the world's busiest shipping lane carrying more than 500 ships daily, so construction would cause huge disruption to sea traffic. And what of the impact on the road network and people of Kent?"

Bridge designer Ian Firth, a past president of the Institution of Structural Engineers, said a bridge over the Channel was not as far-fetched as it may seem.

Mr Firth told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"It is entirely feasible. Before the Tunnel was built there were bridge options being looked at.

"There are bridges of a similar - if not quite the same - scale elsewhere. Of course this would not be one big span - the economics may lean towards something like 800m-1km spans.

We feel it’s a nice idea and we admire Boris for his optimism. But a bridge to France is a long way down the line.

In the meantime if you do need to get to France, we've got you covered...

Best Ways to Cross The English Channel
22 January 2018

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