Øresund bridge

Year:2000

Duration:5 years

Cost:£2.3bn (£4bn today)

Country: Denmark and Sweden

What did this project achieve?

Build a crossing to connect the Danish capital Copenhagen and the city of Malmö in Sweden

The Øresund bridge is part of the Øresund fixed link - a bridge and tube tunnel route connecting the Danish capital Copenhagen with the city of Malmö in Sweden.

The link is made up of an 8km-long bridge, a 4km underwater tube tunnel and 4km of a reclaimed island in Danish waters called Peberholm. The bridge part of the link is the longest rail and road bridge in Europe.

The bridge carries rail and road traffic on a dual-track railway and a four-lane highway. Project designers chose a tunnel for part of the crossing amid concerns that a bridge in that part of the strait could interfere with radio signals from nearby Copenhagen Airport.

Other reasons for a tunnel included providing a clear channel for shipping in all weathers and the need to prevent ice floes from blocking the strait.

One of Scandinavia’s largest ever investments in infrastructure, the link is jointly owned by Sweden and Denmark.

The crossing opened on 1 July 2000, with a ceremony hosted by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Difference the project has made

The Øresund bridge and fixed link have connected two major metropolitan areas – Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, and the Swedish city of Malmö.

The bridge is credited with helping to create a trading region of 3.7m people. It’s certainly made it easier for goods and people to move between Sweden and Denmark – a one-hour ferry trip was replaced by a 10-minute high-speed rail journey.

The bridge carries a data cable as well as road and rail traffic. The cable is viewed as one of the most important routes for data transmission between central Europe and both Sweden and Finland.

How the work was done

The 8km-long bridge section of the Øresund fixed link is the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge for combined road and high-speed rail traffic.

The bridge crosses the shipping channel of the Øresund Strait in a 490m-long curving span. Engineers designed the bridge with two side spans of 160m and 141m – one on each side of the main span.

The project team used a composite of steel and concrete for the bridge’s main supporting girder. The concrete top deck of the bridge carries road traffic. The lower deck carries two railway lines.

Each of the bridge’s concrete pylons are 203.5m high and founded on limestone.

Most of the components of the bridge – such as the caissons and piers – were prefabricated on-shore and then floated out to the construction site for assembly.

A caisson is a watertight structure used to help construct parts of a bridge. Floated into place and lowered to the seabed, they provide engineers with a dry environment to work in. A pier is an upright structure that helps support a bridge.

Engineers built artificial islands around and near the bridge to protect against ships hitting the structure.

"​‌

The Øresund [Strait] has separated the two countries since the last ice age, but now the new link is expected to boost trade and jobs in the region.

Laurence Peter

BBC reporter

Fascinating facts

The Øresund bridge was the setting for the Swedish/Danish TV crime drama ‘The Bridge’. The first series begins with the discovery of a dead body on the bridge, placed exactly on the border between the two countries.

The bridge was used as a symbol for the connection between Sweden and the rest of Europe at the 58th Eurovision Song Contest in 2013. The competition was held in Malmö.

The underwater parts of the bridge have become covered in marine organisms and now act as an artificial reef

People who made it happen

  • Designers: joint venture between VBB of Sweden and Danish engineering firm COWI
  • Consultant engineers: Ove Arup

More about this project

Explore more civil engineering projects

I want to become a civil engineer.

See how your studies lead to a civil engineering career

The job you end up with in civil engineering is likely to link back to what you studied at school, college or university. Here you can see your options at any age.

At school

Up to 16 years

School / college

16-19 years

College / university

18 years +

Change career

Any age