Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Sunda Straits Bridge

This week the Indonesian government gave the preliminary go ahead for the Sunda Straits Bridge, a massive span that will eventually connect the islands of Java and Sumatra. This will be the longest suspension bridge on the planet, measure a total of 26km from end to end and cost at least $10 billion USD. Actual construction of the project isn't slated to start until 2012 at the earliest.

A super-sized construction project like this should have at least two major effects. One, it can be expected to attract a huge level of foreign expertise and investment to this Muslim nation (particularly from Japan, which has a lengthy history in engineering big bridges in earthquake zones). And two, Sumatra will witness a huge explosion of development once the bridge is finished, but that won't be till perhaps 2025 or even later. The population pressure on overcrowded Java is tremendous (125 mil) and that pressure needs to go somewhere. Sumatra (three times the size of Java with a pop. of 'only' 47 mil) is the nearest and logical choice.

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