Longest suspension bridge in the world
October 6, 2007 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Plans for the longest suspension bridge in the world have gotten another go-ahead. The bridge from Java to Sumatra would have a center span of 3km and island-hop a total of 30 km. Concepts have been floated for several years, now focusing on a bridge rather than a tunnel project.

The Australian press is a bit more skeptical, not only due to the natural wonders in the area.

The main domestic corporate backer and it's tycoon, Tommy Winata, has been associated with harrassing critics, ethnic violence, political and military cronyism, and even hunting protected species, and is said to be one of Jakarta's "nine dragons" bosses, associated with generally unsavory types.

A very similar project to put a bridge across the Straits of Messina between mainland Italy and Sicily was recently cancelled under oddly similar circumstances.
posted by gimonca (11 comments total)
Some wag has put up a Friendster page for Tommy Winata, too, for what it's worth.
posted by gimonca at 11:18 AM on October 6, 2007

This thread is useless without pics. Although from skimming one of those reports, I learned that Spain and Morocco had floated (no pun intended) an idea for a bridge over the Strait of Gibraltar.
posted by grouse at 12:43 PM on October 6, 2007

Oh, the Gibraltar idea has been seriously studied, partly by EU and UN affiliated bodies. The bridge technology people probably never stop discussing it.

I think the Stretto di Messina project will come back in some form eventually. It wasn't killed with an overwhelming majority and the South and Sicily will keep beating the neglected-region drum. The technology does seem to be here now which means it's only a matter of ... means.

None of these super-long bridges are very economically sustainable without a level of subsidy, so they have to be seen as providing a broad regional benefit. It's very hard for these sorts of projects to completely pay for themselves.

That PDF paper is really weird. It's like predicting that X technology will arrive in due time just because it always does. A Moore's law of bridge technology. I'd be more confident with actual materials and tensile engineering studies ....

Anyway, I never hear anything about bridges in the Philippines, and I think they need some. They probably don't even have the money that Indonesia does, though.
posted by dhartung at 1:13 PM on October 6, 2007

Well, jeez... it's almost 20 miles from Krakatau. That should be plenty of distance.

If you zoom in on Krakatau in Google Maps, the center of the volcano is actually red, which I guess I figured, but is still kinda cool.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:15 PM on October 6, 2007

This has little chance of succeeding without a senator behind it.
posted by hal9k at 1:30 PM on October 6, 2007

just the kind of thing you want in an earthquake zone.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:27 PM on October 6, 2007

uburoivas -- exactly. why o why would a suspension bridge, of any length (let ALONE the longest in the world) be considered a "good idea" anywhere near indosuna...er, indonesia?

posted by CitizenD at 5:06 PM on October 6, 2007

Wow, a Java<>Sumatra bridge, 30kms long. Wouldn't it be cool if it looked like the local traditional architecture somehow? Or maybe if the suspension cables sounded like Javanese gamelan when the wind blows?

Adding to the long factor, Confederation Bridge, linking New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island, "currently the longest bridge in the world to cross ice-covered salt water." 8 miles seems amazingly long. $40.75 for a car to cross. ouch.

Longest suspension is definitely interesting and sometimes there is unexpected suspension on a bridge [nsfw].
posted by nickyskye at 7:04 PM on October 6, 2007

What I don't understand is what's the big rush to spend $billions of dollars on a project of such ludicrous scope just to connect up with Sumatra? Is it so the govt. can more easily send troops to quell the uprisings in Aceh? Don't they have boats? Or is this just a big money-grab?

This makes about as much sense as building a bridge to connect Milwaukee, WI with Muskegon, MI.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:06 PM on October 6, 2007

to connect Milwaukee, WI with Muskegon, MI.

Those cities, both on a mainland, can be reached by road. Java and Sumatra are islands separated by the Sunda Strait.

"It [Sunda Strait] is very deep at its western end but as it narrows it becomes much shallower, with a depth of only 20 m (65 feet) in parts of its eastern end. This makes it notoriously difficult to navigate, with sandbanks, very strong tidal flows and man-made obstructions such as oil rigs off the Java coast. It has been an important shipping route for centuries, especially during the period when the Dutch East India Company used it as the gateway to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. The strait's narrowness, shallowness and lack of accurate charting make it unsuitable for current large ships".

Perhaps a bridge would be useful because of ferry accidents between Java and Sumatra?

Maybe it's because real estate/tourism and other development would be facilitated when it's not dependent on only ferries/ships or expensive air transport?

But big bucks corruption is an understandable suspicion. "Governors of Java's Banten and Sumatra's Lampung provinces have signed a memorandum to begin designing the bridge with construction company Artha Graha, which is headed by one of Indonesia's richest and most colourful tycoons, Tomy Winata.

Mr Winata is renowned for his close ties to former president Soeharto and ongoing links to business interests of senior military figures. He has big investments in entertainment around Jakarta's Chinatown."
posted by nickyskye at 7:37 PM on October 6, 2007

Is it so the govt. can more easily send troops to quell the uprisings in Aceh?

There's been a peace treaty, partly as a result of the tsunami.

In fact, this has much to do with it. A peaceful Aceh can attract economic investment, which it desperately needs, and a transportation solution can be an important part of that.
posted by dhartung at 12:42 PM on October 7, 2007

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