Great Seto Bridge - History


When in 1889 the first railway in Shikoku - between Marugame and Kotohira - was completed, a member of the Prefectural Parliament, Jinnojo Ōkubo (大久保諶之丞, Ōkubo Jinnojo?, 1849–1891), stated in his speech at the opening ceremony: "The four provinces of Shikoku are like so many remote islands. If united by roads, they will be much better off, enjoying the benefits of increased transportation and easier communication with each other."

While it took a century for this vision of a bridge across the Seto Inland Sea to become reality, another of Ōkubo's ideas, mentioned in a drinking song he composed, was accomplished twenty years sooner:

I'll tell you, dear, don't laugh at me,
a hundred years from now, I'll be seeing you
flying to and from the moon in a space ship.
Its port, let me tell you, dear,
will be that mountaintop over there!

The bridge idea lay dormant for about sixty years. In 1955, after 171 lives were lost when a ferry wrecked in dense fog off the coast of Takamatsu, a safer crossing was deemed necessary. By 1959, meetings were held to promote building the bridge. Scientists began investigations shortly after, and in 1970, the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Construction Authority was inaugurated. However, work was postponed for five years by the "oil shock" of 1973; once the Environment Assessment Report was published in 1978, construction got underway.

The project took ten years to complete at a cost of US$7 billion; 3.646 million cubic meters (128.8 million cubic feet) of concrete and 705,000 tons of steel were used in construction. Although nets, ropes and other safety measures were employed, the lives of 13 workers were lost during the 10 years of construction. The bridge opened to road and rail traffic on April 10, 1988.

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