Boris has revealed that he wants to build a bridge between Britain and France. The irony is quite staggering – building physical bridges while burning down political ones. But is this realistic? Could the wonders of the Channel Tunnel become obsolete?
The bridge, if built, would have to cover the length of the 22-mile crossing and would put it in the top 20 longest bridges in the world. Boris Johnson seems set on this idea stating it is “ridiculous” that the only link between the countries is the Tunnel. Macron has appeared to agree with our Foreign Secretary expressing intent to build the bridge.
Architecturally speaking, it is doable. Ian Firth, a bridge engineer at COWI and the former President of the Institution of Structural Engineers, has said that building such a long bridge is, “entirely feasible”.
But building a bridge that doesn’t disrupt the current mass of shipping that goes through the strip of sea will be tricky. The UK Chamber of Shipping tweeted that, “Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges”. Could building the bridge cause inefficiencies for importers and exporters around the English and Welsh coastline or perhaps it will improve the efficiency as more shipments can come in from Europe by truck and lorry.
It may seem like just a bridge, but it could have a large impact on Britain’s economy and you would be right to worry about the carbon footprint of such a bridge aswell. A road linking Britain to Europe would encourage more transport by car and lorry of all types. Leisure, work and shipping transport would go from boats or planes, which we know have much smaller carbon footprints, to cars and this could have serious implications on the environment.
Some believe this is just another vanity project brought forward by Boris to enhance his own stature within Government. Similar to Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge, this could be a bit of a fantasy which would soar in cost and gather more and more critics along the way. Boris does have a habit of suggesting some unfeasible infrastructure ideas much like his floating airport. Or perhaps it could serve as Britain’s olive branch to Europe amidst all the Brexit shenanigans and help to heal some wounds. Could this be a smart, statesmanlike move from the Foreign Secretary?
All we know is we would love to see this bridge built, by Heatherwick with any luck!