Britain now has more two-car households than no car households
Should we build roads and bridges to accommodate our ever-increasing use of cars and our demands to be ever more mobile? Or should we let congestion worsen and self-limit, reaching a point of balance where people either choose to travel less, at unpopular times of day, or by other, often more environmentally friendly, means such as railways? There is, as yet, no sign of an end to this debate. Similarly, discussions continue about whether we should invest a lot of money in a high speed rail network to improve transport on major routes across Britain and to boost our economy.
Building the bridge
This second crossing was built to relieve traffic congestion on the original Severn Bridge, linking Wales to England across the Severn Estuary. Opened in 1996, this 5.2 km long crossing took 4 years to build and used 320,000 m3 of concrete - enough to fill 130 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It now provides the main road link between England and Wales and is used by more than 60,000 vehicles a day. It has also helped to increase business in Wales, by improving road connections.
Other suspension bridges
The Second Severn Crossing is part of a long history of renowned British bridge-building. The nearby Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol was designed in 1830 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and it still manages the 11,000 vehicles that cross the toll bridge each day.
Some 90 years earlier, the first iron suspension bridge in Europe was built across the River Tees. This is a far cry from the Akashi Kaikyõ Bridge in Japan which has the honour of having the world’s longest central suspension span, of nearly 2 km.