‘Significant Steps’ Taken in Quest for Morocco-Spain Tunnel
Travel Blog • Michael Yessis • 02.06.07 | 9:00 AM ET
Building a tunnel between Morocco and Spain has been on the “official drawing boards” of the countries’ governments for 25 years, according to the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock, and perhaps on the minds of adventurers—and seasick ferry travelers—for much longer. Now, after rounds of geological tests and a set of blueprints developed by a Swiss firm, engineers say a tunnel underneath the Mediterranean Sea could materialize by 2025. “Government officials on both sides of the Mediterranean say the tunnel would give the economies of southern Europe and North Africa an enormous boost,” writes Whitlock. “But the project is being driven at least as much by intangible benefits: the prospect of uniting two continents that culturally and socially remain a world apart despite their geographic proximity.”
“We’ve already done a tremendous amount of work to make this dream come true, to go from an idea—a concept that is just philosophical—into something we can transform into reality,” said Karim Ghellab, Morocco’s minister of transportation. “It’s not easy to predict a date yet, but it is a project that will happen.”
Ghellab envisions a day when commuters will board a high-speed train in Seville, in southern Spain, at 8 a.m. and arrive at their workplaces in Tangier by 9:30.
Next stop, 90 minutes later: Casablanca, followed by the bazaars of Marrakech slightly more than an hour after that. Today, such a trip by ferry and rail would take at least three times as long. “It will completely change our world,” Ghellab said.
The two countries are only nine miles apart at the Strait of Gibraltar, but the challenges posed to engineers by a Morocco-Spain tunnel are much greater than those involved in building the “Chunnel” between England and France, which lie approximately 20 miles apart at the Strait of Dover. “For starters, the water is exponentially deeper: nearly 3,000 feet at the shortest route across the strait, compared with just 200 feet in the channel,” Whitlock writes. “As a result, engineers have mapped out a different path, from Cape Malabata, Morocco, to Punta Paloma, Spain, that would run twice as far across the strait but through shallower water—a still daunting 985 feet below sea level.”