Let me begin with a couple questions.
Question #1: The U.S. has two countries that touch its borders – Canada and Mexico. But what is its third closest neighbor?
While most would probably look at the island nations in the Caribbean, the third closest is actually Russia, a scant 2.4 miles away, the distance between Alaska’s Little Diomede Island and it’s sister Big Diomede Island on the Russian side of the Bering Strait. During the winter an ice bridge usually forms between the two islands and a person can actually walk from the U.S. to Russia.
Question #2: Is it possible to drive a car from North America to South America?
The answer to this question is “no,” because plans for the highly publicized Pan-American Highway were never completed, leaving a 60 mile gap across a dense jungle region, known as the Darian Gap, between Panama and neighboring Columbia.
Both the Bering Strait and the Darian Gap will require 50-60 mile tunnels or bridging systems to connect North America with Asia and South America. And both are part of the massive disconnect in our global transportation network, a network that has been growing for centuries.
Ground transportation, however, is far different than air travel where the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been working for nearly a century to create a more cohesive global air transportation network. With its ever-improving standards and operational procedures, air transportation has become far safer than anything on the ground.
That said, ground transportation is on the verge of major transformation.
Emerging technologies ranging from driverless cars and trucks, to ultra high-speed rail, and vacuum tube transportation networks are all creating an urgent need for a global solution.
Without something similar to the ICAO, it’s easy to envision three separate approaches to bridging the Bering Strait and the Darian Gap, one for roads, one for rail, and one for future tube transportation.
Rather than forcing three colossal bridge/tunnel projects to be built across environmentally sensitive areas, a single, all-inclusive approach would be far better.
For each of these current disconnects, and there are far more than the two that I’ve mentioned, it’s not a matter of “if” they will be built, but “when.” Here’s why.
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