Could a 22-mile bridge crossing the English Channel help boost transport between the United Kingdom and France after Brexit? Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson thinks so – he proposed the infrastructure project and spoke about a second link with France’s president Emmanuel Macron.
Johnson reportedly said to Macron that it’s ridiculous that two of the largest economies in the world are joined by only one railway line. The publication said Macron “is understood to have responded positively.” Johnson tweeted a picture of the two of them flashing a thumbs-up after what he described as great meetings.
En marche ! Great meetings with French counterparts today pic.twitter.com/D73B1rSkd3
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 18, 2018
But some people put the brakes on the idea. The United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, which represents over 180 maritime industry bodies, tweeted there would be challenges with such an undertaking. CEO Guy Platten told The Guardian the Dover Strait – at the English Channel’s narrowest part – “is the world’s busiest shipping lane” and that the largest ships going through the strait can be around 70 meters, or nearly 230 feet, tall. Others pointed out that such a bridge would be incredibly expensive.
Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges. https://t.co/jYD5O8B19W
— UK Shipping (@ukshipping) January 18, 2018
Reuters reported France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio, “All ideas merit consideration, even the most far-fetched ones … Let’s finish things that are already under way before thinking of new ones.” And a spokesperson for prime minister Theresa May said there were “no specific plans” regarding a Channel bridge: “What was agreed yesterday, and I think that’s what the foreign secretary tweeted about as well, is a panel of experts who will look at major projects together including infrastructure.”
But according to The Guardian, some engineers said the Channel bridge idea might not be so far-fetched; architect Alan Dunlop pointed to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which is around 34 miles long. Bridge designer Ian Firth told BBC Radio 4’s Today program the project would be entirely feasible, and that before construction of the Channel tunnel there were bridge options being considered. Firth said, “There are bridges of a similar, if not quite the same, scale elsewhere…It would be a huge undertaking, but it would be absolutely possible, and shipping impact issues could be dealt with.”