Gibraltar Straits Crossing

Gibraltar Straits Crossing Proposed

Gibraltar Straits Crossing Proposed

© Cubanito / Wikimedia Commons

The Bridge

In 1995, Bill Brown spoke at an engineering conference in Gibraltar about a proposed bridge over the Strait of Gibraltar. It represented engineering challenges on a whole new scale, including another vast distance to span, strong winds, powerful currents, earthquakes and a very busy waterway. Nonetheless, he devoted much time to considering how such a bridge might be constructed.

In 1983, two years before he left Freeman Fox, Bill had presented initial suspension bridge designs for the Strait of Gibraltar to the governmental powers that be, focusing on ten spans measuring 2,000 metres each. He planned to position the bridge over the shallower seas of a subterranean ridge between Punta Paloma in Spain and Cap Malabata in Morocco. The total crossing would be 28 kilometres long. He would anchor the towers to the seabed using deep-sea oil-drilling platforms. A collapsible water-filled skirt would provide enough ballast to avoid and lessen the impact of ship collisions.

The new plans that Bill presented in Gibraltar in 1995 were based on work already carried out for the Messina Bridge. Once again, he used the concept of curved underbellies and box shaping to ensure smooth wind flow. Added stability came though the addition of perforated slots on the vented deck sections. This bridge still remains hypothetical; however the work Bill put into his designs helped clarify his research and moved international knowledge about suspension bridge design and innovation several crucial steps further forward.

Proposed Gibraltar Straits Crossing

Linking Europe and Africa

Key Facts

Proposed 28.8km bridge

10 suspended spans, each of 2000m

Approach viaducts of 6,400m and 2,400m


Linking Spain and Morocco

Across the Strait of Gibraltar

from Punta Paloma in Spain to Pointe Malabata in Morocco

Designers / Engineers

Dr William (Bill) Brown

Freeman Fox & Partners (1980s)

and Brown Beech (1990s proposals)


10 steel suspension bridges

Each 2,000m main spans

28,800m total length including approach viaducts

Other long-span bridges

Channel Crossing

Channel Crossing Proposed

Channel Crossing Proposed

© B2 Archive

The Bridge

In 1981 Bill Brown presented a proposed 30km Link into Europe: a planned crossing of the English Channel with 12 suspended spans each 2,500m long. Bill and his colleagues at Freeman Fox had been developing a new deck design able to withstand the long spans required for this vast crossing. Although the tunnel was constructed and opened in 1994, the bridge was presented as a feasible option. The deck would carry six lanes of traffic and a central rail line.

Bill revisited this design between 1996 and 1998 and incorporated his multi-box deck designs and wind deflectors in a new proposal. He also designed new pier protection for the 310m-high towers that would be sited in the Channel.

Proposed Channel Crossing

Multi-span suspension bridge design proposals across the Strait of Dover

Key Facts

30km multi span

12 suspension bridges of 2,500m each

1981 and 1998 proposals


Across the English Channel

From Folkestone to Sangatte

Spanning the Strait of Dover

1981 Design and Engineering

Dr William (Bill) Brown

and Sir Gilbert Roberts

Freeman Fox & Partners

A patented vented-deck design

1998 Design and Engineering

Proposal by Brown Beech (B2)

Featured Dr Bill Brown’s unique multi-box deck design

310m-high towers

Innovative pier protection

Other long-span bridges