Tokyo’s New 'Dinosaur' Bridge To Nowhere

Illustration for article titled Tokyo’s New Dinosaur Bridge To Nowhere

You're looking at Tokyo's newest landmark, the 'Dinosaur' Bridge. Officially known as the Tokyo Gate Bridge — providing a link from the capital to a landfill — it shows what actually happens when a government succeeds in spending $1.4 billion on a bridge to nowhere.

Under construction since 2002, the Tokyo Gate Bridge was going to link to the site of Tokyo's 2016 Olympics on a man-made island. Tokyo lost the Olympic bid to Rio de Janeiro, so now this bridge is going to lead to a big park where the Olympics were supposed to be.

It's not a complete loss: the 1.6 mile-long, four-lane bridge is expected to take 32,000 vehicles per day, probably travelling to the reclaimed island's new shipping terminal or to Haneda Airport, Tokyo's hub for domestic flights. Also on the island is a major landfill, but we doubt many people will be going there to hang out.


Regardless of how useful the bridge is, it has already become a major attraction in Japan's capital, mainly because the z-shaped trusses look like dinosaurs. That's where it gets the name "Dinosaur Bridge" and that's why local boat tours are almost sold out for the next few months. People want to marvel at the two dinos that have long gazed at each other across the bay and are now finally linked together.

Photo Credit: Daisuke Tashiro,

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This is the kind of stimulus spending Americans need. It actually address traffic concerns, provides new links and helps stimulate the local economy long after it's been built.

Instead, around here, an obscene amount of money has been spent on minor improvements to an existing highway. And the best part is how this project started with a repaving. That was then torn up, with newly painted lines scratched off so that the whole roadway could be shifted over 3-4ft. They then proceed to install new wooden guardrails that were selected more for visual appeal than effectiveness. And the final paving was a lumpy, inconsistent mess. There are even stretches where the lines wander around like the driver was drunk or not paying attention. On top of that the money all went into the pockets of a construction company that already gets plenty of business from the state and this work has added nothing whatsoever to the region.

The article has photos of the roadway over the bridge. It's incredible how smooth and neat it looks. I think kind of quality is pretty much unheard of here. That same bridge in the US would cost at least twice as much, take 3 times as long to build and would come out a total mess. They actually managed to build the bridge below cost!

And that bridge doesn't go "nowhere". The Bloomberg article specifically states that the bridge was build to address population growth. Tokyo's suburbs have been seeing massive growth; the 3 fastest growing prefectures are all in the greater Tokyo region, also stated in the article.