“These are testing times. Lets replace them with working times.”

In the inter-war years, the future was already about major bridge projects. On 9 March 1936, a consortium of three major construction companies published a weighty document in which plans for highways with bridges over Storebælt and Øresund were set out in depth.

The Danish Engineer magazine wrote an enthusiastic article about the plans:

“It’s not just the amounts involved that are crucial here, nor that the bridges will be among the largest in the world but, first and foremost, that the implementation of the plan will mean such a change to the natural conditions in this part of the world that nothing equivalent has occurred since the formation of the sound and the belt.”

Infrastructure as a basis for cultural development

Furthermore, to make it clear that this was a task of world proportions and the money for bridge construction could be obtained if required, Engineer also noted that ‘from the earliest times, the development of modes of transport has been a pre-condition for cultural development; indeed a yardstick for this. The massive growth in Danish agriculture in the last century was dependent on port facilities, railways and roads, and there is no agricultural land that is better supplied with roads than Denmark today.”.

Build bridges not barriers

There is little doubt that the article was written while storm clouds gathered over Europe. It concluded:

“If we have the task solved during the first 10-11 years, then yes, we have more than solved it, more than reaped the benefits of unified collaboration. And we will have also provided the example that the world needs today: to build bridges rather than walls, light a beacon that can show the way forward towards better and happier times.”

In 1939-40, money was actually set aside in the Finance Act to start feasibility studies for the construction of the two bridges, and it was believed that construction could commence in the mid-1940s. However, 9 April 1940 saw a provisional end to all plans for fixed links across the Storebælt and Øresund, and the bridges were only finished many years later.

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