Two decades ago, China started looking into building an undersea channel to connect the northern city of Dalian to the southern city of Yantai. Currently, a bay jutting inland from the East China Sea toward Beijing lies between these two cities. The tunnel will connect the Dalian and Yantai directly, subtracting about 800 miles from the current land route. The tunnel will be 76 miles long, over twice the length of the Channel Tunnel connecting England to France, which stretches just over 31 miles. This article is for Premium Members only. Please login below to read the rest of this article.
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The tunnel isn’t the only ambitious architectural feat attempted by the Chinese. Since the Great Wall, Chinese architects and engineers have created some of the world’s longest bridges, tallest skyscrapers, and the world’s longest high-speed rail network.
The tunnel project, however, brings special challenges. They will build the tunnel 100 feet below the seabed, and vertical shafts will run onto islands along the route for ventilation. The tunnel will be made of three parts: a tunnel for passenger vehicles, a tunnel for high-speed trains, and a separate tunnel for maintenance purposes.
However, the greatest challenge is the two major earthquake fault lines the tunnel needs to cross. One of these fault lines produced a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in nearby Tangshan in 1976, which killed hundreds of thousands of people. The project is expected to cost £22 billion, or the U.S. equivalent of $40 billion. Work should begin as early as 2015 to 2016. Engineers from China who researched the project have closely studied the Channel Tunnel between England and France to learn more about undersea tunnel construction, as well as ways to fund such a project.
One of the project’s researchers, a source with East Shandong University who preferred to remain anonymous said, “The government is being cautious.”
Researchers have continued to study the feasibility of the tunnel since the first suggestion of project twenty years ago. The tunnel would serve as an easier, faster passageway from the frigid north to the balmy, tropical south. [/show_to]