Another hypothetical bridge: Spanning the Bering Strait

OK, there was an earlier thread on a bridge from Europe to North America.

But how about one between North America and Asia? The distance between Alaska and Siberia is only fifty-some-odd miles, and there are several islands between them that could be used as anchors. The water depth is generally less than 200 ft.

So. . .

Cost (obviously too expensive), pointlessness (who would want do drive for fifty miles over frigid :eek: water?), and isolation (not exactly linking two major cities), and political ideological differences are obvious reasons it will almost certainly never be done. However. . .

Setting aside earthquakes (but not the other aspects of plate tectonics), are there any strictly engineering reasons that make it impractical (stuff like allowing for renegade bergs)?

Same question about bridging the Straits of Gibraltar.

There isn’t even a road to Nome, for crying out loud. The truth is, air transport is much more effective in this part of the world. There are so many places in Alaska that are not accessable by car.

In order for your bridge to work, there’d have to be a reason to travel there. Perhaps a railroad would make more sense, you could ship things by bulk. Of course, shipping things by SHIP might be a better solution.

These bridges are solutions in search of a problem.

As I mentioned in the Southampton-New York bridge thread to which you refer, the Russians are seriously discussing the possibility of a Bering Strait rail tunnel.

From what I’ve heard, it would be longer than the Channel Tunnel, and require something like a thousand miles of rail infrastructure to be built on either side of the tunnel in order to connect it to anything – which means plowing through virgin forests, etc. Not that the nature reserves in Alaska are likely to be given much consideration in the next four years, but ultimately building 2500 miles of track in order to ship cargo/passengers from one continent to another when a perfectly good boat or plane would do is not likely to be viewed as value for money any time soon.

Bridging the Bering Straight actually makes some sense! It is true-the areas of eastern Siberia ans western Alaska, that are adjacent to the straights, are almost uninhabited. But that would change, if we had an all-waether rail link between them.
It IS technically feasible-the canadians built a similar bridge linking Prince Edward island to the mailand. To me, such a project would spur the development of the region, and provide some relief to the depressed Siberian economy!

Also, this fits in with my MASTER PLAN! (the conquest/annexation of Siberia!). We could use the bridge as a spearhead for our invasion! Once we have the eastern Siberian area under a dollar-denominated economy, we can educate the locals, about the benefits of rule form the USA!

Excellent! But you wouldn’t build the U.S. terminal at Nome, it would be further up the coast, at Wales.

Dibs on the Stuckey’s concession at the Wales terminal…

Map of Bering Strait


I don’t know about that. I mean, sure, it’s too expensive from a cost/benefit point of view, but just talking about the work and materials it doesn’t sound any bigger or more complex than the causeway linking mainland Florida to the outermost Key.


I think the water’s a lot shallower between the Keys, though, and although there are some islands in the Bering Strait, we don’t have a nice little archipelago, so there would be a lot more bridges. Actually, the tunnel idea might be “easier” than a system of bridges.

So no one wants to talk about the Straits of Gibraltar???


The site I saw earlier about this (I think it was linked off the other thread) mentioned that they would have to build 8000 km of approach track as well as the bridge or tunnel (it might have been a tunnel) itself to get it working as a rail link.

Basically, they’d need to link the Trans-Siberian Railway with central North America. The closest rail I can think of would be the VIA line that goes to Prince George, BC. I’m not sure whether the Alaska Railroad links to other railways in BC or elsewhere, and I’m not sure how far north the freight railways go.

They were talking about TGV-type high-speed operations as well; that would require the complete rebuilding of pretty much all of the rail route to the destination cities in North America. With the exception of the US Northeast, there is no high-speed (~250-km/h) European-style electric rail in North America. And I have no idea about the Russian side of things, but I’d be willing to bet that for TGV-type service they’d have to rebuild that line all the way back to Europe.

Even without the inprovements to existing infrastructure, the project would probably be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Okay, here’s the link from SiteSelection magazine: “New Frontiers for Facility Planners”
This is a list of potential projects, and their cost in billions of US dollars.

They list the Bering Straits Tunnel and “associated infrastructure” at only 40 billion, but considering that the proposed Toronto to Montreal TGV is at 10 billion, that seems rather low.

I remember hearing about this in the late eighties, at 10 billion Canadian, but what struck me was that 9/10 of it was for a totally new track, and we’re talking about either expensive urban and agricultural real-estate or rugged granite uplands that would require blasting every millimetre of the way. And Toronto to Montral is only 500 km, not 8000…

The reference mentions a Gibraltar Straits tunnel as well–no price given. If you go to the end of the article, it links to a World Development Federation that promotes big projects.

There aren’t any roads to or from Nome and there aren’t any roads on the Siberian side. The islands available for supporting a bridge, the Diomedes, are marine mammal areas, a bridge would adversely impact the walrus, sea lions and seals as well as birds. The local weather would only allow usage of the bridge for perhaps 90 days per year.

So far, not many people have either read or understood the OP.

I think I mentioned isolation in the OP. This was not a request for information about the obvious reasons, but strictly the engineering problems. I didn’t ask about roads into or out of Nome or Wales or any of the other reasons it wouldn’t be practical that were also documented in the OP.

Having said that, if you’re gonna respond please limit it to the question being asked. I am already familiar with the obstacles presented so far, as a cursory glance at the OP would indicate.

And having said that, thank you all for your input, and have a nice day.

The Alaska Railroad links Anchorage (well, it actually goes a liiitle bit farther south than Anchorage, to Whittier (a bizarre town where everyone lives in one WWII-era high-rise!)) and Fairbanks, going through Denali park. I’ve taken it many times.

OK, the idea that a railroad/highway would “spur development”. Nope. There’s hundreds of miles along the Alcan Highway and Alaska railroad and the Parks highway that are undeveloped. The mere presence of a highway/railroad is not enough.

There is no rail link between Alaska and the lower 48. How about we do that first? Of course, we’d have to do through (yuck)Canada, a distasteful prospect. I assume we’d link along the Alcan, from BC to Fairbanks. Well, fine. But how much freight/passengers are you going to get? Do you realize how much maintence this is going to take? It’s not like you just build the damn thing and then you’re done. In Alaska, a road disappears in a dozen years without maintenence.

So. In order for a rail link or highway to make sense, you have to link two places that need it. A rail line from Vancouver to Vladivostok sounds nice, except that there are no worthwhile stops in between. The Trans-Siberian railroad wouldn’t exist except for military reasons, ditto with the Alcan (although we might have built a road link already without WWII).

Anyway, sure you COULD do it. But how many hundreds of billions are you going to invest? And what return to you expect on your investment?

Now, now, don’t go all pissy on us. :smiley: I didn’t see a question as such in the OP, you know? Just some “hey, guys, whaddaya think?” stuff.

You want engineering obstacles? We mentioned them.

  1. No connecting road systems or infrastructure on either side. (Lemur, Sunspace, Fletch, jr8)
  2. The sheer size of the thing. (jr8)
  3. The fact that the Diomedes Islands are part of a marine sanctuary. (Fletch)
  4. The weather (Fletch).
  5. And I did point out that Nome wasn’t the closest place to Siberia–Wales, Alaska is. That’s a difference of 90 miles, no engineering “spit in the bucket”.

The matter of “roads in or out of Nome” IS pertinent to the question of “engineering obstacles”. How are you gonna get your building materials to build the bridge up to Wales? By ship? By air? By road?

But more importantly, Mjollnir, honey, how are you gonna get the people who are gonna drive on the freakin’ thing UP there so they can DRIVE on it, all the way across to Si-beer-eee-eeer-eee-eria-ahhh… You gotta get the CARS up there, and for that you need ROADS, sherlock… Or were you planning on putting all the cars on the ferry at Bellingham, Washington, ferrying them up to Wales, putting them on the bridge and letting them drive across, and then putting them back on a ferry and taking them back to Seattle? Wow, makes the rides at Tomorrowland look like kiddie rides at the county fair. Can I have the concession to that? :smiley:

But I know what you want. You want a rational discussion of the bridge itself–how big would it have to be, what design would be best, how long it would take, how deep the caissons would have to go, that sort of thing. Sunspace already gave you a link for part of that, and as for the rest, hey, that’s what search engines are for, baby.

Have a nice day! :smiley: