The Southampton-to-New-York Bridge: Who Am I Kidding?

I was thinking about why no one has built a bridge from Southampton to New York. Of course, the answer to this question is: because it’s the dumbest idea anyone ever had. For instance:

[li]You would need to build little “cities” every hundred miles or so, complete with hotels, gas stations, restaurants, etc. These “cities” would have to be built out in the middle of the North Atlantic :eek:.[/li]
[li]If someone had an accident or serious illness out there, they’d be screwed, as help would be thousands of miles away.[/li]
[li]It would cost upwards of a trillion dollars.[/li]
[li]Two words: Titanic. That is, an iceberg could do the same thing to the bridge as it did to the RMS Titanic: render it useless. Wouldn’t an iceberg merrily floating by just crash right through the bridge without giving it a second thought? *Sidebar: We could possibly alleviate the iceberg problem by building a more southerly route, say Lisbon-to-Norfolk, but then we’d be getting into hurricane territory.[/li][/ul]

So, is this the dumbest idea for a publicly-funded construction project anyone has ever had? Or is there a real publicly-funded construction project somewhere that is equally as dumb (or dumber)?

Also, would this be the most expensive one? I think there’s a tunnel in Japan that, if it didn’t cost a trillion dollars, came awfully close. Either that or the Osaka Kansai Airport. What is the most expensive publicly-funded construction project ever?

Finally, am I right about the iceberg thing? Or would an iceberg just come to rest against the bridge and not do any further harm?

I would think icebergs would be less of a problem than tectonics. I vaguely remember my Earth 101 from college, but I do remember that the ocean floor is not just one big nmoving piece of ground.

They are build a big ass dam in China that is widely considered to be a bad idea. I believe it is called the Three Gorges Dam.

Of course when they are done people will say ‘Damn that’s a big dam.’

Well, the real problem is that it’s a four thousand mile drive/train trip with nothing to see. Even jacking up the speed limit to something outrageous like 100mph, it’s still a miserable trip. Even when crossing the US, people take planes rather than drive.

And even cargo is probably just as cheap to send by container ship (and probably we get far more imports from the Orient anyways, so we’d have to bridge the Pacific if we wanted to do this at all).

So what else? You get really crappy weather in the North Atlantic. Fifty foot waves, freezing spray. Stock up on windshield wipers before starting your drive.

Maintenance would suck rocks. Painting a four thousand mile bridge — well, that’s a lot of trips to Sherwin Williams.

Now write a science fiction story about a world where they haven’t developed air travel and you might have a reason to build your bridge.

OTOH, Russia is continuing to make serious noises about a Bering Strait connection (rail tunnel, I believe). That could still happen, although there’s also the minor issue of having to build something like a thousand miles of infrastructure on either side of the tunnel in order for it to connect to anything.

Believe it or not, Tokyo is planning on doing something similar, though certainly not as extreme…

In the Feb issue of Wired, they talk about building a “floating” airport, that would be set up in Tokyo Bay. There’s already a prototype that they’ve been testing. The article included a link…

There is already a bridge from Southampton to New York (Manhattan). It’s called Long Island.

Oh wait… you probably meant Southampton in the UK or something.

Well, icebergs, no. It was rare for icebergs to be in that part of the ocean, as it was a well travelled route and the only reason there was so much ice was, ironically, the winter had been WARMER than usual, causing smaller bergs to break off and drift south.

BTW, what about isn’t there an underwater bridge in the English Channel?

“Underwater bridge”?!? I believe the technical term for that is a “tunnel”. :wink:

Yes, the Channel Rail Tunnel has been operational for about five years now, and I have had the pleasure of traversing it on three occasions (well, six – three round trips): twice on Eurostar (once London-Paris, once London-Brussels) and once on Le Shuttle, which carries cars, buses and trucks. What can I say? It’s a tunnel. Trains take about 20 minutes to go through.

Hmm. Considering that the ocean is 2 [sup]1[/sup]/[sub]2[/sub] miles deep in some places, those would have to be some pretty serious bridge supports!

I don’t know if Boston’s Central Artery Depression/3rd Harbor Tunnel Project (aka the “Big Dig”) qualifies as “as Dumb” or “Dumber”.

Heck, You could probably build the Trans Atlantic bridge with less of a cost overrun per mile.

A friend of mine once claimed that it would be possible to build a space “elevator” which would go from the surface into outer space.

When I looked at him like he was stupid, he said “The trick is to make sure that the center of mass is at the height of geosynchronous orbit. Getting it built would be really hard, but once it is built it wouldn’t have any weight.”

I thought about the physics for a minute and replied, “Maybe it wouldn’t have any normal forces against the ground, but do you have any idea how big the tangetial forces would be to counter the coriolus forces? The tower would want to spin like a propeller.”

An hour later he finally understood.

What if you build it on the equator?

A space elevator would work, if built at the equator, and if built out of the exotic form of carbon known as buckminsterfullerene. But it’s currently not economically easy to make that substance.

As to “what’s the most expensive publicly-funded construction project ever,” the recent PBS series Building Big seemed to imply the Aswan Dam in Egypt was the most expensive, in constant dollars.

Is this true? I can see where it’s probably going to be exceeded by either Boston’s “Big Dig” or China’s Three Gorges Dam, but maybe among completed projects Aswan is the winner.

When I was a kid I had this incredibly cool idea to connect the major cities of the world by underground monorails. They would be in vacuum so they would have no friction.

…rummages through old files…

WOO HOO! I can’t believe I found it. OK, here it is:

Line 1: Winnipeg (2), Denver (5), Phoenix, Mexico City (2,3), Tegucigalpa (Honduras) (8), Lima (7), Santiago.

Line 2: Mexico City (1,3), Los Angeles, San Francisco (5), Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg (1), Toronto (5), Montreal (6), New York (3), Paris (10), London (9).

Line 3: La Paz (Mexico), Mexico City (1), Houston (4), Atlanta (6), Washington, New York (2), Boston, Halifax.

Line 4: Chicago (5), Houston (3), Havana, Port of Spain (Trinidad) (6), Georgetown (Guyana) (8), Brasilia (7), Rio de Janeiro.

Line 5: San Francisco (2), Denver (1), Chicago (4), Detroit, Toronto (2).

Line 6: Montreal (2), Philadelphia, Atlanta (3), Miami, Port of Spain (4), Caracas (8), Asuncion (Paraguay) (7), Buenos Aires.

Line 7: Lima (1), Asuncion (6), Brasilia (5), PPR (see below), Algiers (12), Cairo, Jerusalem (13), Baghdad (14), Tehran, Bombay, Calcutta (8).

Line 8: Colombo, Calcutta (7), Rangoon (14), Taipei (15), Manila (9), Honolulu, Tethys (see below), Tegucigalpa (1), Caracas (6), Georgetown (4).

Line 9: Reykjavik, London (2), Brussels, Berlin (11), Vienna (13), Kiev (10), Islamabad (14), Novosibirsk (14), Ulan Bator (Mongolia), Seoul (15), Tokyo, Osaka, Manila (8), Yaren (see below).

Line 10: Dublin, Paris (10), Monaco (11), Rome, Sarajevo (13), Kiev (9).

Line 11: Lisbon, Madrid (12), Monaco (10), Bern, Berlin (9), Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo.

Line 12: Madrid (11), Seville, Algiers (7), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Accra (Ghana), Lagos (Nigeria), Yaounde (Cameroon) (14), Johannesburg (13), Antananarivo (Madagascar).

Line 13: Cape Town, Johannesburg (12), Gaborone (Botswana), Nairobi (14), Khartoum, Jerusalem (7), Istanbul, Athens, Sarajevo (10), Vienna (9), Prague, Moscow, St. Petersburg.

Line 14: Yaounde (12), Nairobi (13), Riyadh, Baghdad (7), Islamabad (9), Novosibirsk (9), Lhasa (Tibet), Rangoon (8), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) (15).

Line 15: Seoul (9), Shanghai, Beijing, Macao, Hong Kong, Taipei (8), Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh (14), Bangkok, Singapore, Djakarta, Perth (Australia), Sydney, Wellington.

Notice the complete ignorance of geopolitical realities, relative population and economic importance, fiscal and environmental impact, and plate tectonics displayed. This was probably the coolest featherbrained scheme I cooked up as a kid, along with the maglev mass transit system for Winnipeg.

It was coupled with another scheme: to create four laser-powered jet takeoff spaceports on the equator, at St. Peter and Paul Rocks in the Atlantic, Colombo, Yaren (Nauru) in the Pacific, and Tethys, an artificial floating city a few thousand miles off the coast of Ecuador. The idea would be to beam unfiltered solar power collected by satellites by laser (which explains their being in the middle of the ocean) to power jet-powered spacecraft, which would then take off due eastward to take advantage of the impulsion of the earth’s rotation. And where would they fly? To the international, rotating, ecological space habitat, of course!

In case anyone was still wondering about whether icebergs can smash bridges, it’s true. I’ve seen it happen.

When a volcano erupts underneath a glacier, these huge icebergs drop of it. Of course a lot of water starts flowing as well, but the bulk of it gets collected into fishers under the glacier. Then it suddenly bursts forward, icebergs and all.

What ensues is of course total pandemonium for anyone that happens to be close at the moment that the natural damn bursts, releasing all the water and icebergs that built up during the volcanic eruption. Some people were standing around in a dried up riverbed last time it happened in my country, and they had to floor it to get out of the way of all the icebergs and water. They were lucky to have their jeeps close by.

Every bridge in the area is built with this kind of stuff in mind and yet they were all swept away like nothing at all. So, if icebergs would hit your bridge, you could be sure it would do damage, no matter how it’s built.

Of course, in the middle of the ocean you don’t have as much pressure to propell the iceberg, but I am tempted to think the sheer mass of it would be enough. Any additional thoughts on that?

— G. Raven