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Bridge Across the Ocean

Pontoon Bridge in Self-Organizing Sections
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The bridge would be pontoon bridges pre-made from giant injection-molded plastic units a kilometer or so long, manufactured on the coast and then towed out piece by piece. At 100 or 500k intervals there would be a section that opened to allow ships to pass, and then closed itself back up (not drawbridge-style, but releasing at the joint; one bends left, one bends right, the ship passes, and motors on the underside of the pontoons move them back together and they re-lock).

Benefits: Increased individual travel. A shinkansen style rail system would probably be best – faster and cheaper (even across the Pacific, two days from California to Japan; but if the goal is to link the Old World and Americas, probably makes sense to build it Ireland to Newfoundland, Canada). Even in a petrol bus a San Francisco to Tokyo round trip would be less than $200. Driving through the night at highway speeds you could make it in four days.

Savings at intermodal yards. Lorries’ freight don’t have to get loaded onto ships; they just take the exit for the pontoon bridge.

Environmental: The bridge could be placed where the Pacific trash pile collects (and where others collect in other seas and oceans). The bridge could provide some of its own power itself if large quantities of solar cells are placed along it; might even feed into the grids of neighboring countries.

Emergent problems to solve: Driving across the ocean would ironically be tantamount to driving across a 10,000k-wide desert. If rainwater collected along the length of the road isn’t sufficient water for motorists, desalinization plants

Waste – would probably be most economical to have isolated septic tanks, and a vehicle to service the rest stops with a vehicle emptying them, rather than building plumbing to go all the way across.

Law enforcement and rescue – such wide spaces would be difficult to patrol (ask the Australian police).

Storms – the road would have to close if there was a typhoon threatening along the length of the bridge.

ringworldengineer, Apr 19 2008


       You're going to make a kilometre-long injection mould? Cool! Amazing! Dumb!
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 19 2008

       Would you build "service islands" for food, fuel and temporary lodging for tired travelers? What would protect these structures from significant natural events? Would they be like ferry ships that could potentially move out of the path of storms with enough advance warning? Or would they be large anchored "ports" that would somehow provide haven for travelers en route?
jurist, Apr 20 2008

       I suggest making the pontoon sections as long tubes, almost exactly like a floating tunnel. That'd be stronger than a flat roadway, and protect the cars from bad weather. Some cars can travel atop the structure, in good weather, but there's not going to be much to see but sea. Make the ship crossings as submerged sections, with rest stops and places to change driving levels.
baconbrain, Apr 20 2008

       //exactly like a floating tunnel//   

       slightly submerged tunnel would be better; you wouldn't be subject to storms... a bit boring though.
FlyingToaster, Apr 20 2008

       I think the problem here is that most fo the places we would like bridges would destroy a floating bridge. I'm glad you are going to close it for bad weather because someone is going to end up like a polar bear on an iceberg when a storm breaks this up.   

       Ah, hello, tripple A, I need some assitance. Oh I'm not sure where am except the north Atlantic, here let me read you what the GPS is telling me. Oh, it's one of the new ones with basic AI and turn by turn directions. Ah, it seems to be crying.
MisterQED, Apr 20 2008

       Well, it wouldn't be totally floating per se; the pontoons would be totally submerged (at least 30 feet down) with a little ballast control to compensate for the weight of traffic; neutral bouyancy pillars connect them with the roadway.
FlyingToaster, Apr 20 2008

       30 feet isn't enough. To make this work, you would need to apply all the lessons learned from floating oil rigs and then some.
MisterQED, Apr 20 2008

       //Would you build "service islands" for food, fuel and temporary lodging for tired travelers? // I was wondering the same thing. You can pack a cooler and a porta-potty but where will you get fuel?
Jscotty, Apr 21 2008

       //where will you get fuel?// Not a problem, just build the starting side of each lane higher than the finishing side :)
FlyingToaster, Apr 21 2008

       [fastthinker] says "Stupid".
Pot, kettle, black, anyone?
neutrinos_shadow, Apr 21 2008

       no ladders. An elevator, perhaps...   

       I would try for something with a bit smaller tooling bill, perhaps plastic extrusion or blow molding?
RayfordSteele, Apr 22 2008


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