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Expert Explains Why There Are No Bridges Across The Amazon River

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Expert Explains Why There Are No Bridges Across The Amazon River

An expert has revealed why there are no bridges over the 4,000-mile long Amazon river, which runs through multiple different countries.

Unlike some small, lazy rivers where a few big stones are enough to allow a person to get across, the Amazon river is not one you can conquer without a bit of help.

The world's second-longest river, the width of the Amazon averages between two to six miles depending on the area, and can even reach up to 30 miles wide during rainier periods.

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Boats can be used to cross the Amazon river. Credit: Alamy
Boats can be used to cross the Amazon river. Credit: Alamy

Needless to say it's not the easiest thing to get across, and the journey is made more difficult by the fact there is not a single bridge at any point on the river; not in Peru, Colombia or Brazil.

It's certainly unusual, given there are multiple bridges over many smaller waterways, but the reason for this lack of crossings has been explained by Walter Kaufmann, chair of Structural Engineering (Concrete Structures and Bridge Design) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.

Speaking to Live Science, Kaufmann said the explanation is simple: "There is no sufficiently pressing need for a bridge across the Amazon."

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Despite its length, many of the areas located near the river are sparsely populated, meaning there aren't many major roads for a bridge to connect to.

Where there are bigger towns and cities, there are also boats and ferries which have been established to transport people and goods from one side the next, meaning it is not difficult to get by without a bridge.

Though the lack of demand is a major reason there are no bridges crossing the Amazon, Kaufmann said there are also 'technical and logistical difficulties' to building along its banks, including natural formations which may hinder builders.

Experts say there is no need for a bridge over the Amazon river. Credit: Alamy
Experts say there is no need for a bridge over the Amazon river. Credit: Alamy
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The river's marshes and soft soils would create a need for 'very long access viaducts and very deep foundations', Kaufman explained, and as a result the construction would require hefty financial investment.

The creation of a bridge would also be hindered by the 'pronounced differences' in water depth which takes place across the different seasons, with Kaufmann explaining: "The environment at the Amazon is certainly among the most difficult [in the world].

"Bridges across straits are also challenging if the water depth is deep, but at least you know that construction is possible using pontoons, for example."

Pontoons, or floating structures, would not work in most parts of the Amazon due to the way it changes through the seasons, Kaufmann said.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, World News, Science, Environment

Emily Brown
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