16 Aug 2012, 16:20
[Page created ca. Jul 1999; converted 16 Aug 2012
original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/strunnel.html"]
S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"
[consultation is on a fee basis]
Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher
- The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996;
they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything. Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed,
mostly by hand. See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.
S. Berliner, III's
Bering Strait Tunnel.
[See also the Long Island Sound (CONnecticut-NY) TunneL - CONNYL.]
When then-Governor Clinton of Arkansas was first running for the Presidency, I sent (28 Sep 1992) a proposal for a Bering Strait Tunnel to the Clinton for President headquarters in Little Rock, which he or his staff ignored (of course).
I re-sent it on 09 Mar 1993 when President Clinton was about to meet in Vancouver with Russian President Yeltsin and Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney (again it was ignored).
It was a serious proposal in the first place and still merits serious consideration.
On 17 Jul 1999, I sent a reminder of the proposal to the White House and have also sent (28 Jul 1999) a similar message to Canadian Governor General Roméo leBlanc (Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's links didn't work), both referring to this page; later, I followed it up with a letter to M. Chrétien, all (unsurprisingly) to no avail.
Well, it's time to send it on to President Bush and again to Prime Minister Chrétien (done*)! If the White House has me down as some crank, no sense spoiling my reputation, even though this is a very serious proposal.
* - done 16 Apr 2001, with copies to V.P. Cheney, Gov. Knowles of Alaska, Premier Dosanjh of British Columbia, Premier Duncan of the Yukon, and to the appropriate U.S. Secretaries and Canadian
Ministers and the AAR.
Bering Strait Tunnel
The Strunnel concept includes gauge changing, on the Alaska side (for our economic benefit), and is an easy engineering feat (vis-à-vis the Chunnel).
The only other major consideration is a means of crossing the tectonic plate boundary; see Geological Considerations, below.
A general map of the area and proposed right-of-way will follow.
The Strunnel would directly link three exceedingly rich (in terms of natural resources) areas of three major industrial powers; there would be no trans-shipment of goods as there is by air or sea.
Updating the concept (and elaborating far further), the Alaska Highway and the Alaska Railroad go all the way up to Fairbanks and a road extends to Nenana and Manley Hot Springs on the Tanana/Nenana River near its juncture with the Yukon River. The proposed right-of-way (RoW) would follow the Yukon to just short of Koyukuk or so, then follow the Koyukuk River valley north to the Kateel River. Then it would travel southwest along the Kateel to within some 25 miles of Traverse Peak (3,400'/1,036m) and thread easterly across the high divide (2,500'/762m) onto the Seward Peninsula and pick up the East Fork of the Koyuk River, following that valley down to Dime Landing, just south of Haycock (on the Peace River), and then head west along the Koyuk River, climbing again along the lower north slope of the Bendeleben Mountains and down to the Kuzitrin River valley and Bunker Hill and Marys Igloo (if it hasn't melted). At this point (Marys Igloo), the RoW would head north along the Agiapuk River and then down to the coast along the southern slopes of the York Mountains past Brevig Mission and Lost River to Tin City and Wales, its final landfall.
Wales, on Cape Prince of Wales on the Bering Strait, will be the jumping-off point for the Strunnel. Tunneling under Little Diomede Island (U.S.), about 20 miles (32Km) from shore, it would cross (into Russia) under Ostrov Ratmanova (Big Diomede Island, in Russia), only 2½ miles (4Km) to the west. An airshaft and service area could be built on either of these islands (we'd probably prefer Little Diomede). From Ratmanova, it is another 20 miles (32Km) underwater to Naukan on the Mys Peek (East Cape) of the Chukotskiy Poluostrov (Eastern Siberia peninsula).
Once across, a similar process of threading a RoW through forbidding, rough terrain would take us inland to the west bank of the Lena River opposite Yakutsk and then down to join the northern route of the Trans-Siberian Railway, perhaps at Tynda, or even beyond to the main route at Never, just east of Skovorodino.
Obviousy, detailed surveys of the possible RoW locations would have to be made on both sides of the Strait before any final RoW could be laid out.
To further develop the concept, oil and natural gas pipelines might be incorporated in the project, allowing direct transfer of these resources between the two nations.
The Russian railroad system is on a broad gauge of 5' (152.4cm), whereas we (and the rest of the world) use the old Roman chariot wheel spacing of 4' 8½" (143.5cm). The usual way to accomplish this has been to simply lift the car, unhook the brake lines or linkage, and swap trucks (bogies), reconnect, and let the locomotive of the other gauge take the train away. Some transfers are also done using special wheelsets with wheels able to slide in and out along the axles.
It should be pointed out, here, that many heavy-duty rail vehicles, such as some of the giant Schnabel cars made by Krupp (and others) already have the ability to
change gauge ("spurwechsel") in order to operate on both sides of the "Steel Curtain", so even that technological hurdle has been amply covered.
New idea - Dual Gauging
New idea - Dual Gauging- Russia and the other nations in the former Soviet Union are not about to reduce their rail gauge and the rest of the world is not about to broaden theirs, so how about dual-gauging the entire length of the Trans-Siberian railroad and then extending dual gauge westward to the boundary with western 4' 8frac12;" gauge. That way, shipment of goods (and even tourists) could go from New York to London by rail without changing cars! You may laugh but it is both feasible and sensible.
Newer idea for Dual Gauging - I was challenged by John Gale out Arizona way about dual gauging not working with two such nearly-identical gauges. He made the unwarranted basic assumption, that the dual-gauge track would share a common rail, which in no way need be the case. One can just as easily have two rails spread by having their bases touch and two others with the tighter gauge inboard and the broader gauge outboard:
Here is a layout of the basic geometry:
Actually, the spread would be even more to allow for track clips (certainly not spikes!).
In addition, the landward construction in Alaska must allow for earthquakes and for landslides and mudflows.
Excerpt from original 1992 proposal (amended as noted by underscoring)
Excerpt from original 1992 proposal (amended as noted by underscoring):
"Kennedy had his 'man on the moon' dream and we actually did it. How about something not quite so monumental, but a tremendous shot in the arm for our economy, Canada's, and Russia's.
Turkey bridged the Bosporus, Japan built its Tsugaru Straits tunnel between Honshu and Hokkaido, and TransManche Link completed the Chunnel between England and France. Why don't we build a rail tunnel under the Bering Strait and link the lower 48 with Alaska and the Trans-Siberian Railroad? We no longer have any domestic shipping interests worth talking about and the construction and rail transportation industries need a boost.
By tunneling and restricting traffic to rail, we would minimize the environmental impact and avoid the hazards of weather and large mammals and the need for massive autoroad services. Autotrain service should be a great way to reach Eurasia and Europe itself.
This is a project whose time has come and which would show vision and practicality. Goods which now take weeks and months to reach the U. S., Canada, or Russia would arrive in days without the need for air or sea shipment. Tourism would skyrocket. Alaska's, British Columbia's, and the Yukon's economies would soar. Canada could extend BCRail inland up the Fraser River valley and north behind the Coast Range to Skagway and pick up and standard gauge the White Pass & Yukon Railroad to Dawson and the Alaska border. There you're already in the Yukon River Valley which can be followed, albeit with difficulty, right down to its confluence with the Koyokuk River. Up the Koyokuk some 50 miles brings you to the far western foot of the Brooks Range which puts you on a relatively flat course due west across the Seward Peninsula to Cape Prince of Wales on the Bering Strait. Link up with the Alaska Railroad at Fairbanks and give Alaska a decent inland transportation system while you're at it.
I had not researched the route any further since writing that when the announcement of the summit came; the Association of American Railroads and the Department of the Interior can do that far better than I."
I also had no sooner sent off my renewed call for Strunnel action (Apr 2001) when the Italian goverment gave the go-ahead to finally bridge the Strait of Messina (a two-mile suspension bridge)!
17 Aug 01 - Uh, oh! Seems I missed out on some serious consideration being given on both sides of the Strait; see this 10 Aug 01 NY TIMES link,
Also, a Vancouver (BC) native sent me these two links, neither of which seems very prepossessing:
Both of these sites also appear to completely ignore the technical problems inherent in this project, which have I addressed above.
He sent these comments on the right-of-way considerations, and on the tectonics of the region, including the straits (I have NOT edited this material but it so interesting that I present it verbatim):
As to slides on the Alaska side, there is no difference between Alaska and Russia in regard to this particular natural hazard. Indeed, there would be greater hazard due to frostjacking and differential settling than there would be due to slides. (The main slide issue, involving solifluction, is something I am supposed to make a presentation on late this coming semester).
The issue of earthquakes on the Alaska side of the rail tunnel seems to be mostly limited in scope to the areas north of the Alaska Range. The same elements that built the Alps and the Himalayas also built the Alaska Range; namely the collision of the Pacific and North American plates has pushed up a rather tall series of mountains over the aeons and transverse faults divide the region around Fairbanks where different rock units are displaced at differing speeds. Where you see a valley is where you will see a fault, as faults typically provide easier paths where water can erode out features and create drainage. (This from Terrain Analysis class).
I don't honestly know if the range on the Russian side is of the same sort of construction. If so, the same sort of pattern would characterize the region up to the big transverse fault between the North American and Asian plates."
Ben obviously put a lot of thought into this; thanks, Ben!
For examples of the latest in tunnelling equipment, methods, and projects, visit the site of the Herrenknecht companies.
It was suggested to me that the projected shortfall in domestic U. S. natural gas is an excellent impetus to bring this whole proposal back to public focus. However, a seabed pipeline could be laid without any such complications; my interest in the pipeline noted above was merely as an adjunct to the Strunnel, which, in and of itself, would provide far more benefits of very long duration.
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