Global highways: Moving towards an era of megaprojects

“We are moving toward an era of megaprojects,” says futurist Thomas Frey, referring to four bridge projects currently under discussion which could connect the planet in previously inconceivable ways.

The Oresund Bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden is an example of a transnational infrastructure project. The bridge and tunnel complex spans nearly 10 miles with four lanes of traffic and two rail lines. It also carries the data cables that serve as the Internet connection between continental Europe and Scandinavia.

“We’ll finish the Pan-American Highway with a 25-mile bridge over the Darien Gap in Panama,” Frey says, referring to the 19,000-mile route that stretches from Prudhoe Bay, in Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, and the 60-mile stretch of rainforest that, due to environmental concerns, is its only missing link. “If we were actually able to connect that stretch, we would see trucks hauling freight back and forth between North and South America and could potentially double the size of the trucking industry.”

Frey also cites another bridge project in Gibraltar that would connect Europe to Africa, another to connect Japan and Korea, and the potential for a land bridge across the Bering Sea connecting Alaska to Russia.

Such mega-projects could have huge implications for trucking and advancing the middle classes around the globe, says Sandeep Kar at the commercial vehicle research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

“In that scenario, the United States, with its already-advanced factory farms, will feed the world,” Kar says. “In 50 years, it might not be at all unusual for an autonomous truck to leave a farm with a load of grain and drive all the way to Russia.”

— Equipment World Staff

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