Cook Strait must go!

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In today’s Stuff they ask the big question: is it time for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel?

What a grand idea! Imagine being able to drive all the way from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Even if there exists no reason for any sensible person to ever visit Bluff. No, I don’t like oysters, thank you for asking.

Anyone building a bridge or tunnel across our two main islands would face considerable engineering challenges. Cook Strait is a rough and nasty bit of sea, the water is especially deep, and if those things aren’t bad enough the whole area is prone to earthquakes.

The entire idea sounds absurd. Whoever dreamed up this dopey plan needs to take a good long look at themselves in the mirror. Stuff should be ashamed of itself for publishing such dross. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the article is only fit for wiping one’s behind with, but that’s because I accessed the article online and there are some places you really shouldn’t put a MacBook.

So forget about a tunnel or bridge. It’s just dumb. Besides, if we really want to join out two islands up, there’s a much better solution. Instead of trying to find some way to put a bridge or tunnel across a challenging area of water, let’s deal to the problem once and for all. If the water in between the two islands is the main problem, let’s get rid of the problem.

The only sensible solution, in fact the obvious solution, is to fill in Cook Strait.

I’m not claiming it would be easy to do. Nothing worthwhile ever is. But the beauty of this idea is its simplicity. The general concept is so easy to understand – you don’t need to be a scientist or engineer to grasp the basic plan. All you need to do is dam both ends of the strait, drain the water in between, and put millions of tonnes of dirt and rock where the sea once was.

I may not be an engineer, but I can’t see any problems with this plan from a technical perspective. It might be a bigger and grander project than any ever attempted by mankind, but ultimately it would still just be filling in a hole. It’s really only a question of size and scale. We just have to think big.

Naturally, it would take vast amounts of material to fill in Cook Strait, but there’s plenty of the stuff around. We could get all the dirt, rock and other fill we could ever want if we dredged the bottom of the Tasman Sea or knocked down the Southern Alps. As for the tools we would need, all I can say to this is: if you have a huge hole to fill, just make sure you have a bloody big shovel.

We know we can do it, so what’s the impediment? No, it isn’t money. I’m sure the whole thing would pay for itself. The government could sell most of the new land created as a result of this gigantic engineering feat, bringing in hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. If by chance the sale of all that new land didn’t cover the cost of construction the government could look at other options, like taxing the shit out of people for decades, declaring bankruptcy, or even selling some of our people into slavery. So fiscally there’s no reason not to do this. We can’t plead poverty on this one, unless we mean poverty of imagination.

And then I suppose environmentalists won’t like the plan. All the dead fish and birds, wildlife, ecosystems, yadayada. So we’ll have to plant a few trees where the water used to be, to shut these annoying people up. Problem solved.

There may be no good reason not to do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen any time soon, judging by the initial reactions of people I’ve spoken to. I discussed the idea with an engineer friend and he almost fell over laughing. He told me it was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard. Well fair enough. People are entitled to their opinions. But people also laughed when Christopher Columbus said he could get to India by sailing across the Atlantic. And while those people were technically right, they’re not laughing any more, are they? Although that’s because they all died about 500 years ago. My point is that whenever someone comes up with a grand and bold idea, the first response is always derision. And when people finish with their laughter, they then tell you it can’t be done, that you would have to be crazy to even try it.

Think of all the modern marvels people once insisted were beyond our reach. How many of these wonders would we have today if our pioneers had listened to all the naysayers? Would we have sent a man to the moon or built an unsinkable transatlantic cruise liner?

The great thing about this plan is that we can start work right now. We don’t have to wait for our government to get off its backside and finally do something about filling in Cook Strait. If you live in Wellington or Picton, or anywhere near Cook Strait in fact, you can make a start on this today. It’s so simple. All you need to do is start throwing things into the sea. Dirt, rocks, old car tyres, old cars – anything solid will do. Just make sure they sink to the bottom. So if you’re thinking of doing a clear out of all those dead bodies in your back garden, best weigh them down properly.

If everyone chucks into the sea as much as they can, the job will be done in no time at all. And best of all, you won’t ever have to pay for rubbish removal again. So let’s get crowd-dumping!

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