Bering Bridge

If you could design a bridge across the Bering Strait, connecting the U.S. to Russia, what would it look like? Come up with something good and you could win as much as $80,000 ($20,000, if you’re a student).
From the competition website:

This project is a dream project attempting to connect two continents. In a wide sense, it includes building a tunnel or a bridge at both ends of the strait, extending [the] existing railways of the United States and Russia, and laying a world highway around the coasts of the world, which require a massive amount of construction.

Your only two requirements are to design “a peace park with a bridging structure using the two islands, Big Diomede and Little Diomede at the Bering Strait,” and a “proposal of how to connect two continents.”
Of course, Russian engineers have already been considering digging a tunnel between the two continents, and the Discovery Channel has chimed in about how a bridge might actually be built across that “iceberg-swirled ocean near the Arctic Circle.”
But neither of those plans came with a total of $200,000 in prize money…
There’s a confusing clock ticking away on the competition website, but you appear to have until March 24, 2009, to register.

17 thoughts on “Bering Bridge”

  1. Yes, but it asks you to “extend the existing railways” of Russia, which would mean bringing those railways to the Bering Strait. There are a lot of existing railways in Russia.

  2. Don’t miss this gem:

    “Third, with two continents connected and transportation routes completed, exploitation of natural resources at Alaska and Siberia will be accelerated and thus, today’s concerns on natural resources crisis could be alleviated. The Bering Strait Project is not only for physical connection but also contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world.”

  3. @Geoff Manaugh

    You don’t know much about the Russian railway system, do you?

    The necessity to build a railroad to Chukotka makes this a “International Ideas Competition for the Chukotka Railway Project”, because the bridge would be a very insignificant portion of that.

    A map of russian railroads:

    The small block on the upper-right shows the entire railroad system east of the Urals. Chukotka is in the top-right corner (it’s not in the map, but it’s cut close to Chukotka). So you need to build another Trans-Siberian railway, but in an even less populated area with much harsher conditions.

    Also: it can’t be done and it would be useless if it were done.

  4. I admire the ambition, but a road tunnel will be obsolete before it is finished, thanks to peak oil. The rail is a slightly better idea but still, it’s a hell of a deviation to transport goods from Shenzhen to San Diego via the Bering Straight!

  5. Regarding a tunnel, you would expect that any tunnel would only carry rail traffic. that is how the Channel Tunnel works, cars are loaded onto a train.

  6. If you could design a bridge across the Bering Strait, connecting the U.S. to Russia, what would it look like?


  7. People interested in this competition should take a look at the drawings, installations, and writing of Wellington Reiter, in the book titled “Vessels and Fields”, and more specifically the project titled “islands of time”:

    Quoted from the aforementioned publication (p 27, 28)

    “Two islands exist on different days, split by the International Dateline. The islands are also separated by opposing political systems. The islands become caricatures of suspicion and fear. Defensive devices come to dominate the landscape. The burden of paranoia becomes intolerable. A point precisely midway between the two islands is designated for talks. Each island begins construction of a bridge toward the site of negotiation. At the intersection of the bridges, a table and two chairs are arranged. Meetings take place. Agreements are reached. Similarities begin to dominate differences. The two original bridges are extended to reach the respective mainlands. Lines of demarcation are blurred…”

  8. Geoff,

    A big big fan of your blog, however, this idea ought to NEVER EVER happen. In hindsight, not such a good idea. Leave things as is.

  9. With Russian bombers recently flying in Canadian air space, the last thing we need is a bridge above or under water. Thank Secretary of State William H. Seward for the Alaska purchase from the Czar in 1887. History would no doubt have taken an alternate course if Russia was breathing over the head of North America.

  10. Most of the comments were predictably right. A competition, UIA approved or not, was run rather questionably: try to find any traces of it now, you won't succeed! Indeed, the organising committee failed to provide all forms it required itself, failed to announce results on time, failed to publish the winning entries… Indeed, it disappeared altogether soon after the competition was over, and only re-emerged recently. Heaven knows where all the presentations went!

    Still, I don't regret having participated: be it just for the ideas developed, and graphics drawn.

  11. There are a couple of problems. Both areas are barren and harsh. Both American and Russian railroads are on different track gauges; Russia 4'11 7/8 inches; American 4' 8.5 inches. Shifting plates of the two continents would be hard on the structures. The powerful ice flows would damage the bridge pillars. As much as this is a dream, it can't be done.

  12. Absolutely possible. I checked on Google earth, and if you connect it via the three islands in the state, the longest span would be 36 km long… China recently opened one 42 km long.
    Imagine if a family from New York could literally DRIVE to Europe for vacation. Quite a long drive, and quite a project, but certainly achievable. After all, life is a journey – why not build bridges?

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