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Who wants to take an underwater train ride to China?!

China is planning to build a high-speed rail connecting China and the continental United States that will tunnel under the 125 mile stretch of ocean beneath the Bering Strait.

And that's just one of three other wacky ambitious plans they have that completely disregard the reality of the natural environment!

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The Beginning Nome Alaska 1800's, The Future Pairs France 1999
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The Past and the Future!
How ?
As the Soviet Union fell, so did the final obstacle to perhaps the ultimate civil-engineering project.
BY GREGORY T. POPE; PM Illustration by Alan Gutierrez
For Popular Mechanics  . . .
Big bridges are back.
After years of focusing innovation on the short span, civil engineers again have far-reaching ideas in the blueprints.

By the year 2000, the title of world's longest single span will have jumped from England's Humber Estuary to Scandinavia's Great Belt to Japan's Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, with its 6528-ft. main crossing.

And even longer bridges loom on the horizon. Sicily to Italy? Spain to Africa? Today, neither seems too much of a stretch.

But to one maverick engineer, a final gap still beckons. It's the gap between East and West, between two worlds closer now than they have been in decades.

It's a gap across time as well as space, because it spans the international date line. By geographic standards it's trivial--about 55 miles--but by engineering standards it's an ocean to cross.

It's the Bering Strait. T.Y. Lin wants to bridge it.
Preposterous? Not so fast. Lin is no crackpot. Yes, he's daring, but he's also a decorated engineer, with the President's National Medal of Science among many honors under his belt.

He's written top texts on concrete construction, designed dozens of groundbreaking structures, taught at the University of California at Berkeley for 30 years--in short, enjoyed a glorious 6-decade career in civil engineering.

But the Alaska-Siberia crossing--which Lin has dubbed the Intercontinental Peace Bridge--has been this man's dream for 25 years. In 1969, he founded a charitable organization to finance feasibility studies.

In 1986, he nonplused Ronald Reagan by handing him Peace Bridge construction plans after the president had spoken fervently on the Strategic Defense Initiative.

And in 1994, as Russia reaches out to the West, the Peace Bridge has returned in a new incarnation.

Only this time it's no longer just about peace. It's about oil.
Lin and Philip Chow blueprinted Gibraltar bridge with hybrid cable-stayed/suspension design. Each span would run more than 3 miles.

That's because the attention of petroleum companies is shifting toward Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Yakut--the vast, unexplored eastern stretches of Siberia.

Already, Japan and South Korea are considering pipelines to siphon natural gas out of the region. Supplies there could dwarf the current exports into Western Europe:

Last summer, geologists at Russia's Academy of Sciences prophesied that quadrillions of cubic feet of natural gas and billions of barrels of oil await exploitation in Siberia's hinterland.

This potential bonanza may just provide the financial underpinnings of the Peace Bridge. Lin wants to leverage construction by running oil and gas pipelines below the bridge's roadbed.

"I've switched to an economic front," he says. "You see, the bridge will cost a few billion dollars. The road on both sides will cost $50 billion.

The petroleum resources are worth trillions of dollars. But to get to the oil and gas you need roads. And you need the pipeline."

Stepping stones
Laying the economic groundwork for the Peace Bridge will probably be harder than building the structure itself. In Lin's scheme, the bridge practically rolls off an assembly line in modules.

A total of 220 spans--each a double cantilever, stayed by two pairs of heavy-duty steel cables--march across the strait, the sequence hooking slightly north at the Diomede Islands.

Trans-Bering Express
Think the Bering Strait connection is a bridge too far?
How about a tunnel instead? That's the proposal of California architect Stuart Resor--in fact, it's the linchpin of a globe-spanning railroad called World Link.

Trains race through World Link tunnel made from prefab double-tube segments.
Resor's concept calls for an elevated track from Washington, D.C., to Paris through "the world's backdoor--swinging up through Canada, diving below the Bering Strait and arcing across Russia and Europe.

The 300-mph needle-nose trains would run on side-mounted wheels locked into grooved channels.

For the sub-strait tunnel, Resor would adopt the procedure now under way at the Central Artery tunnel project in Boston Harbor.

Prefabricated steel-tube sections are sheathed in concrete, lowered into trenches, pumped dry, buried with rubble and gasketed together.

The # 1 reason for NATF & GATT Trade Agreement for the USA is, Oil to Fuel America into the Future!

As with the Peace Bridge, the quest for oil would fuel construction of Resor's tunnel. But Resor also envisions a day when ebbing petroleum supplies will render airline travel too costly.
"There won't be any easy solution replacing aviation fuel for the long-distance haul," he predicts. Further justification, in Resor's view, for WorldLink.--G.T.P.

Every unit crosses a modest 1200 ft., except for two 1800-ft. spans for the major navigation channels east and west of the islands. The deck consists of a double box.

While road traffic rumbles across the top face in summer months, the upper box accommodates an all-weather twin-track railroad, and the lower box provides space for pipelines.

Drawing from offshore oil-rig techniques, Lin rests this modular superstructure on a series of concrete gravity piers, curved like fat bugles to fend off marauding ice floes.
Each of these is towed to its position, sunk onto a base raft and weighed down with ballast.

Then a huge catamaran barge floats each span to its pier.

The waters themselves offer little challenge--the strait runs no deeper than 180 ft.--but as in all Arctic construction, timing is critical: Weather restricts activity to only five months out of the year.

And because of the climate, concrete must swaddle everything, even the cables. "That's important from two points of view," explains Lin. "Number one, the concrete protects the steel. It simplifies maintenance in an icy area.
Number two, it stiffens the bridge, so it's not just hanging from rope." Only at the deck's expansion joints would steel--coated to resist rust--see daylight.

The Peace Bridge is typical of Lin's designs: At first glance they fly in the face of logic, but eventually they fly.

Case in point: an award-winning proposal for a bridge across the Strait of Gibraltar, linking Spain and Morocco. Lin and colleague Philip Chow picked an 8.75-mile route that European engineers had written off because it crossed water too deep.

The Lin solution: straddling the depths with two enormous main spans that leap 16,000 ft., made possible by cable-stayed cantilevered struts that trim each suspended length to 9842 ft.--still a record span, but within reach of current technology.

Only time will tell if the Intercontinental Peace Bridge gains similar acceptance, or if fortune leads two nations to forge this link.

If so, then the bridge will redefine not only geopolitical boundaries, but also the boundaries of civil engineering.
Stronger than steel, these dazzling structures will change the art of bridge building
BY JIM WILSON PM Illustration by Peter Bolinger Stronger than steel, these dazzling structures will change the art of bridge building

UCSD design hints at the shape of bridges to come.

Steel, the undisputed king of bridge building materials for more than a century, is about to be dethroned. The usurper?
A commoner with a regal air: ordinary sand, spun into gossamer threads of glass.

This new leader may have some people who build steel bridges worried about losing their jobs. But they don't have to worry–yet. In years to come, their numbers, like steel bridges, are expected to dwindle mainly through attrition.

And the reason boils down to a simple equation of time and money. Traditional steel-and-concrete bridges that cross roads, rivers and gullies are corroding faster than their owners can repair or replace them.

"Civil infrastructure is in bad shape,'' says John Scalzi, who directs the National Science Foundation's (NSF) large structural and building system program. Scalzi says 42% of the nation's nearly 600,000 bridges need repair and are obsolete.

To do the necessary work, the Federal Highway Administration says it will cost at least $50 billion.

Even if the money were in hand, which it isn't, Lockheed Martin panels could replace small bridges maintained by local road departments.

Some structural engineers question the wisdom of building bridges as we have in the past. Recent surveys of the nation's bridges reveal that traditional steel-and-concrete structures are beset by fundamental design flaws.

"Steel rods embedded in concrete for reinforcement and concrete both corrode over time from moisture and salts that seep through cracks," Scalzi says.

Replacing steel with glass fibers might extend the life of a typical bridge from 50 to as long as 200 years, he says. To determine if glass, or perhaps some other material such as plastic or carbon fiber is the best replacement for steel, NSF has funded 40 research efforts.

Among them is the work being done by Frieder Seible, a structural engineer and director of the University of California at San Diego's Charles Lee Powell Structural Research Laboratories.

Seible is known around the globe for designing some of the world's most advanced composite structures. He invited Popular Mechanics for a look at his work with glass bridges.

After reviewing the basics of composite bridge building in his La Jolla, California, office, we headed to his laboratory. "So, this is where I will finally see a glass bridge?" I asked, stepping off the curb onto Matthews Lane.
"You're walking on it," he said matter-of-factly.

Sure enough, the section of road beneath my feet looked different from the rest of the street. The asphalt had been replaced by glass bridge decking.

It's black and roughly finished, not transparent as I expected. "We weren't trying to make it pretty," said Seible, "just strong."

Seible continued across the street while I performed my own test. I jumped up and down on the panel. It felt like an ordinary road. An approaching transit-mix truck sent me scurrying to the sidewalk.

Braking a few feet from where I was standing, the truck's rear wheels pivoted on the glass panel as it turned into a driveway. "We put the panel here to take advantage of the construction traffic," Seible said.

Inside the laboratory, Seible's team was subjecting other panels to more scientific tests. Strain gauges wired to computer workstations record the panels' silent screams as they are "tested to failure."

A pile of crushed panels that resembled a collection of broken surfboards was stacked in the parking lot. Running my fingers through some of the translucent yellow glass fibers, I couldn't help but marvel at how these delicate, corn silk-like threads can be so amazingly strong.

Threads hanging from the top panel form a hinge that allowed me to lift the end piece. It was surprisingly light.

The weight-saving potential of composite bridge decking also has caught the attention of the Army, which has a unique bridging problem.

During a ground invasion, armored units must cross ravines or man-made ditches.

Currently, the Army uses portable metal bridges that are mechanically "launched" from the top of turretless tanks. The problem is that because the bridges weigh 12,500 pounds, only one can fit on each vehicle.

"Making it possible to carry two bridges would double the range of existing launch systems," says John Kosmatka, one of Seible's colleagues. Kosmatka has designed a 13-ft.-wide, 50-ft.-long nonmetal assault bridge for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Made of a carbon fabric similar to material used in golf clubs, it weighs only 9000 pounds but can support the weight of a 70-ton tank.
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin (LM) also has its eye on composite bridges–in its case, glass bridges for the civilian market.

At LM's Palo Alto, California, research laboratory, scientists have successfully tested a glass bridge that they say will span distances up to 140 ft. According to an LM spokesman, spans this size and smaller account for 70% of the U.S. bridge market.

To show that glass could carry the load of heavy traffic, engineers had a 70-ton army personnel carrier drive on top of an 18-ft.-wide by 30-ft.-long section. It is an astounding burden for a 23,000-pound bridge to bear.

Later, engineers loaded 115,000 pounds on the span. That is a far heavier load than the 80,000 pounds currently allowed on interstate highways.

Anticipating more demand, Owens Corning has expanded its glass fiber production
The most impressive number generated by the LM test is a small one, the $5-per-pound cost of the bridge's components.

It is a critical number for bridge designers. Steel-and-concrete bridges now cost between 30 cents and $1 a pound, according to LM. But they also are five times heavier than glass and cost more to maintain.

This puts the LM glass bridge in the same economic ballpark, countering the steel industry's claim that composite structures are too expensive to be taken seriously.

On top of that, the cost of building glass bridges is likely to decrease.
"There are aspects of the design and fabrication methods where costs can be reduced," says LM's chief project engineer, Chris Dumlao.
"We also expect the cost of raw materials to decrease as market demand for fiber and resin increases."

Even if the cost of building them doesn't fall dramatically, glass bridges still have several important advantages over steel-and-concrete spans.

The first is quick assembly, the top priority for county bridge authorities that need to knit together communities isolated after their small bridges have been swept away by storms. It took only five weeks for LM's subcontractors to build the demonstration bridge.

Once assembly lines are set up, spans for these areas could be turned out in even less time.

Unlike steel bridges, glass bridges also could be designed to be self-monitoring, perhaps even self-maintaining. One approach being tested by the Naval Research Laboratory uses lengths of specially etched fiberoptic cable.

Light shone through the cable undergoes a frequency shift if the cable experiences a change in its thermal or mechanical load. An inexpensive computerized instrument could watch for these changes and alert a repair crew to exactly where the bridge needed to be fixed.

Scalzi says other researchers have suggested placing networks of epoxy-containing tubes among the structural fibers. An impact hard enough to cause a tiny crack also would cause the tube to leak and, in effect, seal the fracture.
What is most dramatic about glass bridges is the way the structures themselves could be built.

One possibility, says Seible, is a scaled-up version of the process Kosmatka used to build his portable bridge for DARPA.

To build a large glass bridge, a mat of glass fabric wrapped with plastic would be draped from vertical supports. Once stabilized, a vacuum pump would be connected to one end and it would draw a stream of epoxy from tanker trucks at the opposite side.

The epoxy-saturated mat would be allowed to cure for several weeks or months.

The plastic cover would then be stripped away, revealing a multicurved design as natural as the tug of gravity.

Proponents of composite bridges acknowledge many technical issues must be addressed.

There is some evidence, for example, that the sun's ultraviolet rays might reduce the strength of glass fibers.

While painting would solve this problem, it also would tarnish the image of composites as low-maintenance materials, which is, of course, one of the justifications for their higher costs.

No one can predict how this question or other technical issues will be sorted out.

What is known for certain is this: The 21st century promises to be the future home of the most ageless of beautiful bridges.
France's newest bridge takes mass production to new lengths, 951 ft. to be precise.

Crossing the St. Sauveur River in Normandy, the dual-span car and train bridge was assembled from 160 concrete semiarches.

Each 49-ft. section was cast in a waterchilled mold at an outdoor plant a mile from the site. Because the bridge curves as it inclines, French architect Marc Mimram needed to use a 3D computer model to get the angles right and estimate the wind and traffic loads to which it would be exposed.

The newly completed bridge shares the view with another engineering marvel, the 2808-ft. Normandy Bridge.

It was the world's longest cable-stayed bridge until April 1999, when Japan's 2920-ft. Tatara Bridge opened.

Some of the Following information was culled from several Internet sources including,
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Editors Note
Gee, I hope it doesn't Blow-up like Elon Musk's CARS & Rockets!

Interestingly the station was first put together as part of the 'hydrogen economy' infrastructure, and the plug-in services have just recently been added; perhaps as a result of Hyundai's recent strong commitment to the tech with the upcoming IONIQ BEV ...

Toyota's hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan is on sale at eight dealerships in California, but the company has asked those dealers to stop delivering the car to customers due to a lack of fueling stations.
culled 04-25-2014

As train crashes kill thousands each year around the world, researchers work on measures to make riding the rails safer....
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