It'd be cheaper to move France closer to England!' Boris is ridiculed for his Channel Bridge vision - but engineers insist it COULD be done and point to rejected 80s plans for spectacular project
Boris Johnson understood to have offered idea of a second Channel crossing - at more than 20 miles in length
He is understood to have put forward the idea to France's PM in meetings at Sandhurst Military Academy
Despite criticism, Boris was today backed by a designer who said it would be possible to construct a crossing
Indeed, officials previously considered a similar proposal for a bridge - at a cost of up to £14bn in today's money - before the tunnel was built in the 1980s
By Tim Sculthorpe, Deputy Political Editor
and Scott Campbell For Mailonline
20 January 2018
today faced ridicule from critics over his vision for a new bridge across the English Channel - but other experts point out such a project is technically possible and has been considered before as an alternative to the Channel Tunnel.
The Foreign Secretary put forward the idea of a second Channel crossing in meetings at Sandhurst Military Academy with French President Emmanuel Macron
yesterday. If built, the structure would become Europe's longest bridge at 22 miles in length.
Today he faced scorn from experts who branded it a ridiculously expensive 'fantasy' project that would block the world's busiest shipping lanes.
Spectacular vision: Boris Johnson has been mocked for proposing a bridge across the Channel. However the 1980s EuroRoute project, seen in an artist's impression,envisaged a part-tunnel, part bridge crossing at a cost of £12bn
Rival project: Eurolink, a rival plan proposed in the 1980s, envisaged a 22-mile long bridge at a cost of $14bn This artist's impression from 1985 shows the proposal
Boris Johnson raised the prospect of building a bridge or road tunnel between Britain and France during yesterday's crunch summit with Emmanuel Macron
A similar project called Euroroute that was proposed in the 1980s would have taken drivers through the white cliffs of Dover and onto a spectacular bridge across the channel at a cost of £14bn, adjusted for inflation.
But some engineers, including a vice president at the Institution of Structural Engineers,have backed Johnson and insisted that such a project is entirely possible given the advances in technology over the course of 40 years.
They accused the naysayers of a 'lack of vision' - indeed the world's longest bridge in China crosses a body of water 103 miles wide and similar projects are underway.
Europe's longest bridge is the Vasco da Gama Bridge which is 11 miles long.
This graphic shows the different proposals for a link between Britain and mainland Europe. The Eurobridge would cost £14bn in today's money while the Euroroute would cost £12bn
These concept images from the original proposal for the Euro Route are taken from a booklet produced in the 1980s
The first idea for a cross-channel tunnel between England and France was conceived in 1802 - here is a sketch showing the design, complete with chimneys to the surface for oxygen
Eurotunnel wants to be involved if Boris bridge to France goes ahead
Eurotunnel has said it is 'right to be thinking about' building a new English Channel crossing and would want to be involved if the plans floated by Boris Johnson went ahead.
The Foreign Secretary's idea was 'very interesting', corporate affairs director John Keefe said.
Current Channel Tunnel traffic only runs at about 54 per cent of total capacity but the company has the rights to build any second crossing until 2086.
Mr Keefe said it would be 'decades' before the extra capacity was needed but fluctuating growth rates and changes in technology made it difficult to be more precise.
He said: 'It's certainly right to be thinking about it and it's something we consider on a regular basis. We look at the forecasts and we look at where we see traffic growth going and when we have got a stable period ahead of us then we can plan and predict.'
He added: 'It's a very interesting idea. We want to be involved if it gets developed, as it gets developed, but we think there is still a bit of growth to do first before it becomes necessary.
'If the economic, political and financial conditions were all favourable we would have first dibs on whether to do it or not. If the conditions are right, we want to be there.'
In the 1980s two alternatives to the Channel Tunnel were proposed - known as EuroRoute and EuroLink.
Euroroute was a part-bridge part-tunnel crossing that came in at a proposed cost of £6bn - £14bn today.
A rival plan known as EuroLink envisaged a three lane bridge across the channel between 15 piers.
When the idea was originally proposed, the idea of having a road tunnel spanning the Channel was not popular because of fears over emissions, so a consortium of British industrial giants suggested dividing the crossing into three stages.
EuroRoute would have had a central tunnel with two bridges of three miles each at either side linking to the mainland.
The plan was valued at around £6bn and had secured funding by the planning deadline.
But ultimately the contract was awarded to another bid leading to the construction of the Channel Tunnel as it is known today.
The £9billion project took six years to complete and eventually opened in 1994 linking Folkestone with Coquelles near Calais.
In a separate proposal, engineers suggested building a motorway toll bridge between England and France five years before the tunnel was built.
Drivers would have been charged £5.60 to drive across the 21-mile structure which would have linked Britain to mainland Europe.
It was hoped that toll charges would bring in as much as £220million per year after the £3bn construction cost.
The bridge would have been held up by enormous pylons planted in the water - built strong enough to stand a boat accidentally crashing into one of the struts.
Speaking today, Ian Firth, senior vice president at the Institution of Structural Engineers, said building such a bridge was 'entirely feasible'.
The world's longest bridges (...and Britain doesn't even make the top 100!)
1. Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge
This Chinese bridge is 102.4 miles long - making it the world's longest bridge. It hosts the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway. Its construction took four years, employing 10,000 people, and cost more than £6billion.
2. Changhua-Kaohsiung Viaduct
Over 200million passengers have used this Taiwanese rail link since it was opened in 2007. It is 97.8 miles in length and is built across numerous viaducts in a bid to avert earthquake damage.
3. Tianjin Grand Bridge
Another entrant in the top 10 from China, the Tianjin Grand Bridge carries the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway. It is 70.6 miles long and was completed in 2010 - before being opened one year later.
4. Cangde Grand Bridge
The Cangde Grand Bridge has been designed to withstand earthquakes and sits on more than 3,000 piers along its 65-mile length.
5. Weinan Weihe Grand Bridge
Not only does this bridge cross the Wei River twice during its 49.5-mile journey, but it also offers scenic views of many other rivers.
When it was completed in 2008 it was the longest bridge in the world - but it was quickly surpassed by the previous contenders.
6. Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
This 34-mile link was in the works for years - but was left mired in controversy following a series of worker deaths and injuries. During construction, there were 10 fatalities on the Hong Kong stretch with as many as 600 hurt. One politician even branded it the 'bridge of blood and tears' - and 21 employees at a contractor were eventually arrested on safety charges.
56. Europe's longest bridge - Portugal's Vasco da Gama
This 7.6-mile bridge spans the Tagus River in Portugal's capital Lisbon. It carries six road lanes, each with a speed limit of 75mph - except one section which is limited 60mph.
119. Britain's longest bridge - Birmingham's Bromford Viaduct
Trailing far behind its Asian cousins, the Bromford Viaduct is a paltry 3.5miles long, carrying the M6 motorway between Castle Bromwich and Gravelly Hill in Birmingham. It is just a quarter of a mile longer than the Second Severn Crossing.
Mr Johnson went onto an official reception at the V&A Museum following the formal talks and was pictured sipping champagne
Boris is understood to have told aides: 'They are two of the world's biggest economies and they are linked by a single railway. It is ridiculous.'
Mr Dunlop said: 'After the Garden Bridge debacle, where Boris Johnson as mayor of London apparently disregarded planning rules, spent £60 million of public cash and a further £37 million was wasted, you would think he would stay clear of building any more bridges. Any sensible person would.'
He said it would be difficult because 'it's [one of the] world's busiest shipping lanes. Is that not enough? It would be easier, and less expensive to just move France closer.
The UK Chamber of Shipping warned today that a bridge would pose 'challenges' to the busiest shipping lane on the planet
But engineer Ian Firth said a bridge across the Channel was 'feasible' and was a 'serious contender' when the Channel Tunnel was being planned
'It's a pity about Carillion. If only they'd held out a bit longer the bridge could have been just right for them, another fantasy project to boost possible earnings and future final account projections.'
The UK Chamber of Shipping said: 'Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world's busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges.'
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweeted: 'Dangerous for container ships and useless when the wind blows (which is often)!'
According to reports, Emmanuel Macron was positive about Mr Johnson’s suggestion, saying: ‘I agree, let’s do it.’
But last night an aide pointed out that the Channel Tunnel was running at only 55 per cent capacity. A source close to the French president told the Financial Times: ‘Before building a bridge, let’s use the tunnel.’
But Mr Frith insisted it was technically feasible as an idea today.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'It has been looked at before. Before the tunnel was built there were bridge options being looked at and of course it is doable.'
Mr Johnson has backed a bridge project before, promoting the ill-fated Garden Bridge across the Thames. The project was scrapped as a waste of money
As Mayor, Mr Johnson also promoted the idea of closing Heathrow and replacing it with a brand new four-runway airport in the middle of the Thames estuary
He added: 'There is no real issue particularly nowadays with modern technologies. We can design relatively long spans.
'This would be a multiple span structure. This has not got to be one big span of course.
'The economics may lean towards something like getting on for a kilometre spans or something, 800 metre to a kilometre span, that sort of size I would imagine. Multiple spans.
'It would be a huge undertaking but it would be absolutely possible and the shipping impact issues could be dealt with.'
Winston Churchill's grandson, Tory backbencher Nicholas Soames, told The Sun: 'It's an absolutely excellent idea.'
David Knight of the Institution of Structural Engineers said: 'It technically feasible but would be extremely expensive.'
Mr Johnson is understood to have told aides: 'They are two of the world's biggest economies and they are linked by a single railway (the Channel Tunnel, pictured). It is ridiculous'
Mr Johnson joined the Prime Minister and French president Emmanuel Macron at the summit yesterday, along with other Cabinet members.
Last year it was claimed the Foreign Secretary had plotted a multi-billion-pound highway to show the EU the UK was not giving up on Europe despite quitting the bloc.
Mr Johnson was said to have abandoned the idea after being talked out of it by his aide Will Walden.
It was reported that in private conversations at the 2016 Tory Party conference in Birmingham, Mr Johnson said: 'If you wanted to show your commitment to Europe, is it not time for us to have further and better economic integration with a road tunnel? That's what we need.' Mr Johnson claimed such a plan had been ruled out in the 1980s, but he added: 'That's all changed.
'They now have the technology. You could come out of the EU but join Europe in the most fundamental way.'
He was said to have claimed that the move would be 'a great symbol of European commitment'.
Last year it was claimed the Foreign Secretary had plotted a multi-billion-pound highway to show the EU the UK was not giving up on Europe despite quitting the EU
It's not the first ambitious building project Mr Johnson has proposed – in 2013, while mayor of London, he suggested building a four-runway airport on an artificial island in the Thames estuary in a bid to ease growing pressure on Heathrow airport.
The project would have cost £47.3billion, but the plans were scrapped in 2014 by the Airports Commission.
Despite his idea's failure, Mr Johnson published a report in 2016 re-introducing plans for the airport, which was nicknamed 'Boris Island'.
In 2012, Mr Johnson launched the £60million Emirates Air Line cable car over The Thames, which he hoped would be used by commuters – but, in its first year, just 16 passengers were regular users of the service.
Read more: Boris Johnson is ridiculed over vision for Channel bridge | Daily Mail Online
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Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 20th, 2018 at 07:06 AM..