What If We Built A Road Around The World? The world seems like it’s becoming a smaller and smaller place all the time.
Travel times between the Earth’s continents have never been shorter then they are today.
But one thing you still can’t do is drive around the entire world.
Sure, you could always just fly,but wouldn’t it be great if instead if you could go on a road trip between Europe and North America.
Or North America to Asia.
Is it actually possible to build a global highway system that would connect all of the world’s continents?
And if it is,then should we actually do it?
To begin exploring the answers to these two questions,Here’s Sam from the brand new channel,Half as Interesting
To discuss the current problems that would face a global highway sytem.
SAM: So, how connected is the current road system?
So there are basically four distinct major road systems on Earth.
The biggest one being this one:Eurafrasian one?
The one spanning Europe, Asia, and Africa.
These three continents are all connected by land.
So, it makes sense that they’re all connected by road.
Right?Wrong.Because I lied.
It’s impossible to cross from Africa to Asia fully on land because of this:The Suez Canal.
This is the canal that makes the trip from Europe to Asia by boat, Instead of this: The only physical connection between the two continents is, therefore; the three bridges spanning the canal.
But the road system is still contiguous,so it still counts as one big road system.
Speaking of big things,the 6th largest country in the world,and the first smallest continent,Australia,has its own major road system.
But there’s not much more to say about it,other than if you go a little bit this way,you get to America both of them.
Much like Africa and Asia,the Americas are technically not connected because of a man-made canal.
The Panama Canal.
But that’s not a problem because of multiple bridges spanning the narrow waterway.
The problem is this:The Darién Gap.
Not a single road crosses this desolate swamp land spanning over the Panama-Colombia border.
The area is overrun with paramilitary forces and drug lords.
There’s just not enough demand to make braving the marshy and dangerous area to build a road worth it.
So, that’s why North America and South America have two completely separate unconnected road systems.
REALLIFELORE: So, to recap, these 4 areas all have preexisting road networks but none of them connect with one another.
So, how can we fix that and live in a world where you,can drive from New York to London and back again?
Let’s imagine that this global highway would originate in Cape Town, South Africa, and end in Punta Arenas in Chile:the southernmost city in the world with a population of over 100,000 people.
The current highway system from Cape Town to Kinshasa,is fine and would take 51 hours to complete the whole drive.
But once in Kinshasa, our first problem arises:there is currently no bridge over the Congo River between Kinshasa and Brazzaville.
So, the only current way across is by a ferry.
In order for our global highway to work,we need to build a bridge across which would cost around $444 million.
Assuming that it’s built, the drive from Brazzaville to Eddalya in Morrocco can continue just fine with existing highways.
The total driving time all of Africa so far stands at 7 days and 6 hours.
But here we encounter one of the largest problems to our global highway:The Mediterranean Sea.
Luckily, at this point though, the sea separates Morrocco from Spain by only 14km 8.7 miles.
But it’s not the length that’s the problem,it’s the depth of the water.
Which is up to 900 meters 2952.76 feet deep at some parts.
It would be a gigantic engineering challenge to construct.
And the estimated cost is somewhere around $24 billion.
But let’s assume that it’s built and you’re now across from Africa,in the town of Alegciras in Spain.
You can now drive all the way from this town to the other side of Eurasia in Magadan, Russia on currently existing highways.
And that drive alone would take 7 days and 11 hours.
When combined with your trip from Cape Town, the total drive from there to Magadan would take 14 days and 17 hours to complete.
In order to connect more people on the global highway, UK citizens could transport their vehicles through the Chunnel and begin their journey on French highways on the way to Magadan.
If you live in Australia, New Zealand, or Indonesia, then I’m sorry, but it’s probably not possible to build a bridge connecting you guys to the system with our current technology.
the distances that Australia and New Zealand are from everything else means that any bridge build would have to be at least 165 km over the open ocean.
Which is not very feasible.
So basically if the rest of the system is built,if you’re living just about anywhere in Eurasia you would be able to drive to Magadan.
But getting from there to North America is perhaps the greatest challenge that the system faces.
This is a map of the Russian highway system.
And as you can notice, this entire area here is full of nothing.
Over 2,000 km [1242.742 mi] of brand new highways would have to be built through this vast and freezing land to connect to the small village of Uelen near the Bering Strait.
From here mainland Alaska is only 82 km [51 mi] away.
But a bridge that long alone because of these:The Diomede Islands,luckily in the center between Alaska and Russia.
Because of them, you only need three separate smaller bridges instead of one long one.
And the water depth is actually quite shallow at only 55 meters [180.446 feet] deep.
But still, due to the freezing temperatures here, the challenge of building it would be enormous and the bridge would likely cost an insane $105 billion to complete.
And then there’s the problem that the closest town in Alaska is 160 km [99 mi] away from where the bridge would be constructed at.
So, another highway would have to be built out to there.
But this town is even further separated from the rest of the road system in Alaska.
Which means even more highways would have to be built entirely from scratch to connect all the way to Fairbanks.
From here, finally, you can take existing roadways all the way down on a 129 hour drive to Yaviza, Panama.
The existing road system ends here at the aforementioned,Darién Gap.
So if the area could become a little safer, and a highway was built across it in the future,you could drive even further all the way down to Punta Arenas in Chile.
The southern most major city in the world.
To recap all of this one more time, this area would have to see some major construction projects to build the global highway system.
The longest route would from Cape Town to Punta Arenas, and it would be over 52,000 km [32,311 mi] long.
Take you over 28 days of driving time.
And the entire system would likely cost at least $233 billion to build.
That’s a little over 1% of the United States’s GDP.
Or about 38% of what the United States military spends in one full year.
That may not seem like very much until you remember,you could always just fly from Cape Town to Punta Arenas for about $2,000.
And it would only take you about 27 hours instead of 675 hours.
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