Building a bridge from Alaska and Russia?

  • #1
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I think I saw a documentary on TV a while back about the thought of building a bridge between Alaska and Russia. The largest bridge ever built. Do you think that this could actually be done in terms of modern structural engineering?

I would imagine that such a bridge would become quite a bottleneck.

An underground or underwater rail tunnel would seem much more practical and economical.

AlaskaBridge.jpg
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Ranger Mike
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we can't do this..makes it too easy for the commies to invade us!
 
  • #3
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There is no infrastructure on either side of the strait to connect to that bridge. The Russian side, in particular, is extremely sparsely populated, it's one of the most pristine parts of the world. You'd have to build 2000 miles of roads or railways to connect to the Russian transport network, much of it over permafrost (which makes any construction difficult and expensive).

And there's no economic reason to do all that, because, even if all roadways and bridges were already there, it would still be significantly more expensive to move stuff using land transport across Bering Strait, than to load the same stuff into containers in Shanghai or Vladivostok and to transport it to Long Beach using cargo ships.
 
  • #4
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About how many miles across from Alaska and Russia is the Bering Strait?
 
  • #5
907
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The strait itself is 60 miles wide. From there, like I said, it's 2000 miles to connect to the Russian network (somewhere near Khabarovsk), and about 500 miles to connect to Alaska Route 11.
 
  • #6
FredGarvin
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What exactly would be the economics to support this? A 60 mile long bridge in one of the most unforgiving environments doesn't seem really feasible if not darned near impossible. It's tough to say because a bridge like that would require some serious pilings. Does anyone know if the geology in the area would be usable for this purpose?
 
  • #7
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the permafrost that they built the pipeline on is having melt problems now
even if there was some reasonable need to build it, I don't think that the knowledge is enough to make it last
could you imaging being the workers on that project, how absolutely miserable!!!

field enginner/manager says:

I'd sign the PO but the ink in my pen froze

although... its a dumb idea, with no use, that would waste billions, so they will probably do it

dr
 
  • #8
stewartcs
Science Advisor
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I think I saw a documentary on TV a while back about the thought of building a bridge between Alaska and Russia. The largest bridge ever built. Do you think that this could actually be done in terms of modern structural engineering?

I would imagine that such a bridge would become quite a bottleneck.

An underground or underwater rail tunnel would seem much more practical and economical.

AlaskaBridge.jpg

The Discovery Channel had a show on Extreme Engineering the other day on this very topic.

CS
 
  • #9
minger
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The only thing I know about Kamchatka is the cheap grocery store vodka. Mmmmm, hangover. Is there a Popov province up there, too?
 
  • #10
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The only thing I know about Kamchatka is the cheap grocery store vodka. Mmmmm, hangover. Is there a Popov province up there, too?

of coarse, thats where all the vodka trees grow!

dr
 
  • #11
mheslep
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the permafrost that they built the pipeline on is having melt problems now
dr d, though there have been reports of artic permafrost melting, I'm unaware of any current impact on the pipeline. Please provide a source for this statement

dr dodge said:
even if there was some reasonable need to build it, I don't think that the knowledge is enough to make it last
The continuous tunnels would be shorter than the English Channel tunnel.

dr dodge said:
could you imaging being the workers on that project, how absolutely miserable!!!
They'd be underground for most of the tunnel work.
 
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  • #12
mheslep
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The Discovery Channel had a show on Extreme Engineering the other day on this very topic.

CS
Saw it. This interactive only covers the bridge version, not the tunnel?
http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/engineering/beringstrait/interactive/interactive.html [Broken]

Surprisingly, it seems like most of the cost and difficulty would be not in the Strait crossing itself, but in extending a useful transportation system to the Strait from the Russian side. Apparently there is very little or nothing out there worth the expense.
 
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  • #13
mheslep
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The strait itself is 60 miles wide. From there, like I said, it's 2000 miles to connect to the Russian network (somewhere near Khabarovsk), and about 500 miles to connect to Alaska Route 11.
Only 30-40 miles to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BeringBridge.jpg" [Broken] in the middle of the Strait
 
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  • #14
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I tried to find the thing I read on the net about the pipeline, but couldn't find it
It basicly was talking about the fact that the best permafrost observatories we have are the ones along the pipeline its self, and at the current rate, maintainence costs were going to increase as supports in some places were going to need "upgrades" (I think it was to go deeper, as the frost line shifted.) The roads and structures in alaska are having problems, too Shifting as surface melts. Could be significant problems in the coming years.

dr
 
  • #15
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I think it's a great idea, but one whose time has just not yet come. Now, assuming our civilization doesn't all go to ruin in the next hundred years or so, maybe it will be feasible in the twenty-second century. Russian and US infrastructure capabilities may be a lot greater (well, at least the Russian). I can see great possible advantages at that time. Consider that by then we should have implemented very-high-speed maglev rail capabilities to supplant most resource depleting and environmentally unfriendly air travel. We can envision trains that travel at around 1000 mph (1600 kph),and that will connect all of the Americas to all of Eurasia, Africa and possibly Japan and Australia (by maybe the 23rd century or so).

There are, however considerable problems, not the least being that much of the travel will be along the "Ring of Fire" and the system will have to be designed to compensate for this factor (23rd century maybe?). Still, in that long-term the economic gain might be considerable. Also, travel at those speeds would have to be within sealed "tubes" so much of the system might best be accomplished underground and under-water. Also at those speeds, curves in travel would have to very gradual and extend over long distances. Just some things to think about.

KM
 
  • #16
mheslep
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I think it's a great idea,
why?

Also, travel at those speeds would have to be within sealed "tubes" so much of the system might best be accomplished underground and under-water. Also at those speeds, curves in travel would have to very gradual and extend over long distances. Just some things to think about
Tunnel construction at that scale (1000's of miles - orders of magnitude longer than today's longest) becomes the entire issue, trains just an afterthought. It would require innovation akin to the invention of the airplane.
 
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  • #17
FredGarvin
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I would imagine the tunnel idea is much more feasible than the bridge option. I just can never see that happening.
 
  • #18
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why?


Tunnel construction at that scale (1000's of miles - orders of magnitude longer than today's longest) becomes the entire issue, trains just an afterthought. It would require innovation akin to the invention of the airplane.

Why? At least two reasons. First, the speed of travel can be far greater, twice or greater than the speed of sound if travel is in sealed tubes. We'll not be able to match that with atmospheric travel (ie., aircraft). Second, we greatly decrease the pollution (atmospheric and ozone layer) from air travel.

Regarding the second comment, that is why I stated that this will not happen any time soon, but given standard progress, it should at some time - - maybe a hundred years from now or so.
 
  • #19
mheslep
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Why? At least two reasons. First, the speed of travel can be far greater, twice or greater than the speed of sound if travel is in sealed tubes. We'll not be able to match that with atmospheric travel (ie., aircraft). Second, we greatly decrease the pollution (atmospheric and ozone layer) from air travel.
My question referenced your comment regarding the current, proposed, Bearing Strait tunnel or bridge was 'a great idea'. Why?
 
  • #20
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My question referenced your comment regarding the current, proposed, Bearing Strait tunnel or bridge was 'a great idea'. Why?

I don't know how I can state it more clearly. It is ultimately faster, cleaner, environmentally safer. Its drawback is that it cannot occur anytime soon - - like within the next hundred years, but then, why not?

KM
 
  • #21
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The Bering Strait is perhaps one of the most chaotic channel of water in the world. Large torrents of ice would make building a bridge an impossibility. A tunnel, similar to the channel tunnel connecting Britain and France, where the tunnel is under the bedrock would be a better solution.
 
  • #22
mheslep
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I don't know how I can state it more clearly. It is ultimately faster, cleaner, environmentally safer. Its drawback is that it cannot occur anytime soon - - like within the next hundred years, but then, why not?
KM - I was encouraging you explain your reasoning in engineering terms. Faster, cleaner, safer than what? All three at once? Clearly the train is not faster than air travel. Regarding building in the near term: the OP allowed for a tunnel. I am unaware of any technical reason the Strait could not be crossed with a tunnel using today's technology, given it amounts to only two English Channel tunnels.
 
  • #23
mheslep
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The Bering Strait is perhaps one of the most chaotic channel of water in the world. Large torrents of ice would make building a bridge an impossibility. ...
Difficult no doubt. Impossible? What's untenable about the ice breaking pear designs proposed here: (go to 'Big Picture'-> 'Pears')
http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/engineering/beringstrait/interactive/interactive.html [Broken]
 
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  • #24
turbo
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Due to seismic activity in the Bering Strait, the tunnel doesn't sound like such a great idea. Plus, once you get traffic out of the tunnel at either end it would have to be routed over some of the most desolate terrain imaginable.
 
  • #25
mheslep
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...Plus, once you get traffic out of the tunnel at either end it would have to be routed over some of the most desolate terrain imaginable.
Yes that, especially on the Russian side, is the largest problem with the idea to my mind. Or put another way, if the main reason for a water crossing structure is to connect two economically active areas, then there is nothing to connect.
 

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