Cross-Channel Bridge Proposed to Thatcher Govt

LONDON ~ Plans for a 34-kilometre bridge linking Britain and France were submitted to former prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s government, newly declassified documents show.

The proposals, floated in April 1981, would have seen motorists driving 67 meters above the channel, and paying a toll charge of £5.6 pounds (US$11) per person.

According to the records, released by the National Archives at Kew, engineers said that private financiers were willing to put their backing behind the project, likely drawn in by the potential toll revenue.

Engineering group LinktoEurope dismissed the option of tunneling under the water separating Britain and France as “impractical,” and instead said that a three-lane motorway between the two countries – currently connected by the Channel Tunnel – was best.

Though LinktoEurope admitted that the huge pylons on which the bridge would rest could cause problems for shipping traffic through the channel, it said that they would be sufficiently strong to withstand a boat ploughing into them.

While there is no record of how seriously the proposal was considered, blueprints and artists’ impressions of the bridge, submitted to the Transport Secretary, have been carefully preserved.

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