Spain and Morocco want a connection

An the street from Gibraltar Africa is within reach from Europe. The strait is almost 14 kilometers wide. It has long attracted migrants and smugglers. Now Spain and Morocco want to get even closer: A tunnel is supposed to connect the continents. After the two countries have resolved their diplomatic crisis, they are working more closely together again and are now looking to complete an old plan. The model is the Eurotunnel from Calais to Dover. The new route will be more than 40 kilometers long and will probably start near Tarifa west of Gibraltar and end on the other side of the Atlantic at Tangier; almost 30 kilometers of it run under the sea. The journey to Africa could then take half an hour. Vehicles would be loaded onto trains, high-speed trains could run – almost 300 meters below the sea surface.

After years of standstill, both sides are stepping up the pace. The Moroccan government commissioned the Director General of the National Society for Studies in the Strait of Gibraltar to take the project forward. The Spanish parliament is providing 750,000 euros for a new study in the state budget for next year. The state-owned Secegsa company was founded 40 years ago, after the Spanish king in 1979 Juan Carlos I and the Moroccan monarch Hassan II had reached agreement on the plan at a meeting in Fez.

Initially, a floating bridge was discussed

Several attempts got stuck under the strait, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The variant “Cañón del Estrecho” between Punta Canales and Punta Cires was soon eliminated. It would have been only 14 kilometers long, but for geological reasons it would have had to be drilled at a depth of 900 meters. The idea of ​​a bridge was also scrapped. It would have had a span of up to 5000 meters and towers hundreds of meters high. A floating bridge with tunnels and an artificial island was also initially discussed. The original plan is much older. In 1869, the French engineer Jean Baptiste Berlier, who invented the pneumatic tube in Paris, brought it up.

Construction is now expected to take around 15 years and costs at least five billion euros. That sounds optimistic because it will be one of the most expensive construction projects of this type with major technical challenges. According to “”, the Spanish planners are in contact with Herrenknecht AG in Baden-Württemberg, the market leader for tunnel boring machines. “In view of the advances in the technical possibilities of drilling and propulsion systems and the recent experience in the construction of deep tunnels in the seabed, there are increasingly favorable prospects,” says Secegsa optimistically.

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