Although the Amazon River is about 6,900 kilometers long, it has no bridge. It is the second largest river in the world and one of the most important waterways in the world.
It has more fresh water by volume than any other river and is home to the world’s largest species of dolphin, hosting over 100 species of breeding fish and up to 60 species of piranha. However, despite its many and varied qualities, there is one thing Amazon does not have, and that is bridgework, Live Science says.
Given that the Amazon River flows through three states – Peru, Colombia and Brazil, and more than 30 million people live in the Amazon basin, it is unlikely that this river would have a bridge. but why?
Amazon River Anomaly
When compared to the other major rivers of the world, the lack of bridges over the Amazon seems strange. In Cairo alone, there are about nine bridges across the Nile. More than 100 bridges have been completed during the past 30 years on the Yangtze River, the main river in Asia; While the European Danube is a third of the length of the Amazon, it has 133 bridges.
“There is no urgent need for a bridge over the Amazon,” says Walter Kaufmann, head of the department of structural engineering – concrete structures and bridge design – at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.
The Amazon, for most of its 6,920 kilometers in length, meanders through sparsely populated areas, meaning there are very few major roads that any bridge can connect to. And in the cities along the river, boats and ferries are a well-established way to move goods and people from one beach to another, meaning there’s no real need to build bridges other than to make travel a little faster.
Of course, there are also technical and logistical obstacles.
“Of course, there are also technical and logistical barriers,” Kaufman says. According to him, the Amazon is far from being the ideal location for bridge builders, as it contains a number of natural reliefs that must be conquered by engineers and construction workers.
For example, its extensive swamps and loose soil will require “very long access bridges – a multi-girder bridge that crosses large basement areas – and very deep foundations,” and this would require a significant financial investment, Kaufman said.
Additionally, the river’s changing locations throughout the seasons, with “obvious differences” in water depth, would make construction “extremely demanding.” This is due in part to the high and low river levels throughout the year and the soft sediments on the banks that erode and change seasonally. Kaufman noted that while these particular issues are not exclusive to Amazon, they are “particularly serious” in those areas.
A bridge too far?
It should be noted that although there is no bridge that crosses the Amazon, there is one that crosses the Negro River, its main tributary. Named the Rio Negro Bridge, the bridge, completed in 2011, connects Manaus with Errandoba and is currently the only major bridge crossing any tributary of the Amazon. But while there are no concrete plans to build a bridge over the Amazon, “that doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” says Philip Firenside, an American biologist, scientist and conservative who has spent most of his career in Brazil.
Upon completion of the Rio Negro Bridge, tentative plans were made for a bridge over the upper Amazon – known as the Solimos River – in the municipality of Manacaporo, which will connect the BR-319 Highway to Manaus and eliminate the need for a ferry. “BR-319 is a high political priority, but it has no economic justification,” Firenside said. “It is cheaper to move water from factories in the Manaus Free Trade Zone to São Paulo.”
Additionally, according to a 2020 commentary written by Fearnside for environmental news site Mongabaycu about the proposed development of the BR-319, the construction of such a bridge “would give deforestation access to nearly half of the remaining Amazon forest in the country and is perhaps the most important A protection case for Brazil today,” Firenside said.
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