Thursday, 16 May 2013

A bridge to connect Lebanon and Cyprus

The Lebanese media is discussing a proposal from a U.S.-based company to build a long-distance bridge connecting Lebanon with Cyprus. The 150km highway-bridge would span Dbayeh in Lebanon to the southern Cypriot port city of Limassol. Drivers would be able reach Cyprus from Lebanon within 80 minutes. The project would initially be paid for by the U.S. concern, with passengers paying a fee to cross the bridge. After 10 years the bridge would be jointly owned by the Lebanon and Cyprus governments.

To facilitate shipping traffic, the bridge would include pathways for ships, similar to that featured in the Bahrain-Saudi Arabia causeway, which is several times shorter than the new proposed bridge.

Given that the longest water-spanning bridge in the world (Lake Pontchartrain Causeway) is only 38km long, such a project is very ambitious in scale, and would present numerous infrastructure challenges let alone huge costs. No estimates of the bridge's costs have been suggested, and although the project would be funded fully by the US firm, traffic would need to be large enough to make the project profitable and sustainable in the long term. The economies of both nations are fragile. Cyprus is facing a possible EU exit over its banking crisis, and Lebanon’s continued failure to reach political consensus is compounding a sense of deadlock. 

Nonetheless, both countries have extremely promising off-shore gas supplies that are likely to be exploited in the next 5 years (Cyrus is already drilling), and this will boast confidence in a megastructure such as this.
It is difficult to imagine whether traffic would be large enough would make the bridge profitable in the long term. However, ties between the two countries are well-established and the two share an exclusive economic zone. Ministers also cemented bilateral defence agreements in early 2013. Many Lebanese found refuge in Cyprus during the civil war and the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006. Cyprus also remains popular for Lebanese couples seeking civil marriage.

قدّمت شركة أميركية عرضًا إلى قبرص ولبنان بإقامة أوتوستراد في البحر ينطلق من مدينة ضبية الى قبرص في ليماسول على أن تقوم الشركة بتنفيذ الأوتوستراد الذي طوله 150 كلم وتأخذ رسمًا على العابرين.

والعرض يقول إن بعد عشر سنوات يصبح الأوتوستراد نصفه ملك قبرص ونصفه ملك لبنان ويكون الوقت الذي يأخذه السائق للوصول من لبنان الى قبرص ساعة وعشرين دقيقة. كذلك سيضم جسورًا كي تمر السفن تحت الأوتوستراد مثلما حصل في أوتوستراد السعودية البحرين.

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