It's not easy building a new highway in Japan, since it's one of the most crowded places in the world. For instance, often you'll find that the place where you want to build your roadway happens to be obstructed by a skyscraper. There's no place else to put it, and the owners of the building certainly don't feel like tearing it down. What do you do?
You just cut right through the middle. Behold, the Hanshin Expressway:
Because the Japanese don't let minor things like reason stop their growth.
In the mid-1980s, the city of Osaka wanted to add some ramps to the already existing Hanshin Expressway. However, as is the case with many Japanese cities, space was a bit of a luxury -- and Osaka was already crammed to the point where they had to build their airport in the bay. So when the Hanshin Expressway builders came across land that already happened to contain the Gate Tower Building, it was no small matter -- especially as the owners of the building refused to yield one inch.
Five years of negotiations ensued, until everyone was frustrated enough to work out the kind of solution that was probably initially only offered sarcastically: Just build through the damn building.
Other ideas included having the building transform into a robot and carefully step out of the way of oncoming traffic.
The two structures never actually touch, because the highway is suspended like a bridge through the building. It still didn't stop the building's owners from literally listing the tenant of floors 5 through 7 as "The Hanshin Expressway," to the point where the expressway actually pays rent. Sadly, the elevators of the building refuse to stop on the expressway floors, opting instead to skip directly from 4 to 8.
What if it skips on payments? We'd pay anything to witness that eviction.
Although you'd think the people on the fourth floor would complain, what with being stuck with the noisiest upstairs neighbor in history, they're apparently pretty cool with the situation. The expressway has been soundproofed and vibration-insulated so well that the companies occupying the building don't really notice it. This is perhaps best shown by the nickname they've chosen to call the building: The Beehive. Because, you know, it's a very busy office building and that's the one and only noteworthy thing about it.
So let's say you're driving on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge when you notice that, in the distance, it inclines down, down, down toward the water ... to the point that it appears the end of the bridge is submerged.
"Wait, this is the opposite of what a bridge is supposed to do!"
And, sure enough, out in the distance the bridge just ends -- there's a clear expanse of water where your road should be.
"The one day I drive my Mazda instead of the boat-car."
You're not going to drown -- that gap is where the bridge turns into a tunnel. This Frankensteinian creation was drawn up in 1956, when designers stared across the 23-mile expanse of the Chesapeake Bay and realized that none of the normal engineering solutions really worked. Building a bridge that long was risky. Proposals for connecting the shores with a tunnel or a series of artificial islands were laughed out of the room as soon as the decision makers saw the price tag. To make matters even worse, the U.S. Navy politely pointed out that the bulk of their Atlantic fleet happened to be located deeper in the bay, and they would really like to take them out on the ocean every once in a while, thank you very much.
That's when they got creative. The result is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
Seen here from goddamn space.
The structure opened in 1964 and was instantly placed among the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.
The only other option was "Just ramp it."
The project, built during hurricanes and an assortment of other terrible Atlantic weather phenomena, features four 1,500-foot artificial islands, two high-level steel bridges, a mile and a half of earth-filled causeway, over 12 miles of straight-up "normal" bridge ... and finally, to mitigate the Navy's concerns, two mile-long tunnels to enable untroubled passage for their ships above. It's so massive that it has its very own special political subdivision and police force, and is reportedly a very pleasant and smooth ride despite the $12 toll.
That is, unless you need to turn back for whatever reason and miss the precious few turnaround spots. Or end up stuck in the tunnel for hours due to an accident ahead. Or happen to get caught on the larger gusts of wind that can and totally do throw cars overboard.
"Hi, OnStar? I have a ... situation here."
Karakoram Highway connects Pakistan and China through a perilous mountain range of the same name. It's the world's highest paved international road, topping at about 15,400 feet. The construction process was just as hard as the altitude figures: More than one worker died for every mile along the 800-mile-long highway.
Via Shaun D Metcalfe
Witness the wonders mankind can accomplish without the tyranny of OSHA!
Yet somehow they managed to build the thing over the kind of terrain that had clearly meant to remain untraveled. They didn't give a good goddamn whether nature threw uncrossable canyons in their way or not:
"No problem, just get us some Legos and rope."
Karakoram Highway is called "Friendship Highway" due to the link it provides between the two nations. Assuming that "friendship" is slang for "actively tries to kill everyone driving on it," the nickname is very, very accurate. After 20 years of perilous construction, the road was opened to public in 1986. It immediately proved to be just as dangerous to travel as it had been to build, partially because of things like this:
"Don't be a wuss, man, walk it off."
The highway came down on travelers like a demon's wrath, dropping huge boulders, sending vehicles flying off perilous turns or just flat out flooding 7-mile stretches of the road, drowning nearby villages under hundreds of feet of water.
Along with the road actively trying to kill them, the passengers also have to keep alert for terrorists, as they are known to attack travelers. Also, snow leopards prowl the area and are prone to lunging at cars. We so wish we were kidding.
And just to be able to get to the "world trying to kill you" part, you'd better be a dab hand at withstanding altitude sickness, a condition caused by messed-up oxygen levels that can very well be fatal. It most commonly occurs at over 8,000 feet ... which is par for the course for Karakoram Highway, as it rarely dips below that altitude.
Real men don't need air -- they breathe solid rock.
Yeah, did we not mention that? The workers basically built the whole damn thing with reduced oxygen levels. So, yeah, drivers should be thankful they have any road at all. If they survive.
For more ways man has slapped nature in the face, check out Man's 6 Most Ridiculous Attempts To Take On Mother Nature and The 5 Ballsiest Ways Man Has Replaced Nature.