Proposed Bridge Would Make It Possible to Drive Between England and France

The British government has played down U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's proposition of building a bridge from Britain to France.

He also said that a panel of experts had been set up to review "major projects". (The Dover Strait, at the Channel's narrowest point, is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, now used by over 400 commercial vessels a day, according to the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency.) And even when the political will existed to build a crossing, coming up with the money was always a challenge.

But asked if the PM supports a new bridge, a Downing Street spokesman told reporters: 'I haven't seen any plans on that'.

"What was agreed yesterday, and I think that's what the Foreign Secretary tweeted about as well, is a panel of experts who will look at major projects together including infrastructure", he added.

The Channel Tunnel, opened in 1994, cost more than $10 billion to build, and was not heavily used at first, raising questions about whether it was worth the expense.

Olympic masterplanner Steve Lawrence earlier told us Johnson was "daft as a brush" for suggesting such a huge project.

Others pointed out that, technically, it's possible. In 1981, when Margaret Thatcher's administration was mulling designs for the Channel Tunnel, plans for a three-lane suspension bridge were submitted to transport officials. However speaking to his aides Thursday, Johnson said that a bridge across the 22-miles Channel between England and France would be achievable, pointing larger structures in Japan and elsewhere.

He said that the biggest challenge would be the risk of ships colliding with the bridge, but added that it could be dealt with using technology including artificial intelligence, Global Positioning System and "significant vessel impact protection".

"Our economic success depends on good infrastructure and good connections", Johnson tweeted.

Johnson's project is the latest in a long line of troubled infrastructure ideas. It was scrapped by Sadiq Khan, Johnson's successor at City Hall.

  • Rogelio Becker