The excavation of a tunnel linking Spain and Morocco could get underway as early as 2007 if a geological report finds no major technical problems. The 25km tunnel, which was first proposed some thirty years ago would create the only direct physical link between the continents and would carry an estimated 9 million passengers and 8 million tonnes of goods in its first year. If the project is approved, the tunnel could be in use by 2025.
Spain and Morocco formed a joint body to begin work on the project in 1991 inspired by the building of the Channel tunnel between France and Great Britain. Strong ocean currents and the depth of water in the Gibraltar Strait ruled out the possibility of a bridge connecting the two countries.
Initial studies found that it would not be possible to build the tunnel at the narrowest part of the strait because at 900 metres it is too deep. The proposed route now lies to the west and is 300 metres deep (compared to the channel tunnel which lies only 50m below the sea). The geological layers under the strait are horizontal meaning the tunnel has to cross through different rock strata, a complex situation according to experts.
A final decision on whether the tunnel will be built depends on both financing and political will. Costings have not been established as yet, but estimates made several years ago put the price at a minimum of EUR 5 billion. Source: Guardian Newspaper