The Longest Ride isn't just the name of yet another Nicholas Sparks novel that has been made into a romantic movie starring the obligatory heartthrobs and beauties that the genre demands. The phrase might soon be used to describe the London to New York road trip that will be possible if a powerful Russian tycoon realizes his dream of building the world's longest and most ambitious superhighway.
Vladimir Yakunin, the head of Russian Railways and close friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, unveiled his plan at a Russian Academy of Science meeting and described his vision as "an inter-state, inter-civilization, project." The proposed highway, dubbed the Trans-Eurasian Belt Development (TEPR), would span the entirety of the largest country in the world, linking Russia's eastern and western roadways with existing road systems in Western Europe and Asia.
The distance between Russia's eastern and western borders is over 6,000 miles, but Yakunin's proposed plan doesn't end there. He would like to build a bridge connecting Siberia's Chukotka region and the remote city of Nome, Alaska, famous for being the end of the grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. At this point, however, it's unclear whether this bridge would be literal or metaphorical; Yakunin has yet to specify if a bridge, tunnel, or ferry would be the best way to traverse the comparatively short 55-mile distance between Russia and Alaska at their closest point in the Bering Strait. Even with an easy way to cross the strait, the London-New York road trip couldn't yet become a reality due to the fact that over 500 miles of desolate terrain separate the isolated Nome from the closest major city, Fairbanks.
Although a superhighway that wraps most of the way around the globe might sound like an impossible project, the greatest obstacle between turning this grand idea into a reality is mostly likely not technology or innovation, but money. The TERP, according to estimates, would cost trillions of dollars. Nevertheless, Yakunin has argued that the superhighway would create jobs, increase development in remote Siberian areas, and generate worthwhile economic returns on the hefty investment.
Assuming the Russian superhighway were constructed, the strait crossed, and a road from Nome built, the London to New York trip would be possible if an adventurous traveler were willing to undertake the 12,910-mile trip. Even traveling at an ambitious 500 miles a day, which would leave little time for the many photo opportunities and culinary and cultural adventures that would surely pop up along the way, the trip would still take nearly a month. CNN.com and Fox.com have proposed trips that would take travelers from London, through Berlin, Moscow, and Fairbanks, and end in New York. However, being able to tell the grandkids--or even just brag to your bar buddies--that you once traveled from London to New York by rental car might make the longest ride worthwhile.