The UK government may be on the verge of giving the okay to a long-discussed project to link Northern Ireland to Scotland with a rail-and-road tunnel under the Irish Sea roughly the length of the one linking England to France.
Studies of the tunnel were commissioned last year, with the committee headed by the chief of Network Rail, the quasi-government agency that provides the infrastructure for the UK's rail system. The project has had strong backing from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and has gotten the nickname 'Boris's Burrow.
Johnson is believed to be enthusiastic about the idea at least in part because it would create a direct link among all four of the UK's 'home countries (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and might help un-knot some of the issues resulting from Brexit. The project is estimated to cost about $2.8 billion.
Skeptics say it wouldn't resolve Brexit issues that come from agreement that there should be no fixed border between Ireland, an EU member and the British north, which puts Northern Ireland in a different customs and rules status from the rest of the UK.
Earlier, a bridge was considered, but the project changed to a tunnel after estimates that heavy weather in the Irish Sea would close a bridge as much as 100 days a year. Another factor that may enter into the decision on the tunnel: would it reduce support in Scotland for independence, and what would happen if the tunnel were built, and Scotland then seceded and joined the EU.