American engineers in the Antarctic have begun work on a highway from the giant US coastal base at McMurdo Sound to the South Pole – a distance of 1600 kilometres.



In the next few weeks the ice road should have crossed the wide expanse of the Ross ice shelf, which permanently covers the ocean, and be approaching the Transantarctic Mountains. The mountains mark the halfway point to the Pole.



The road is expected to reach the US Scott-Amundsen base at the pole within two years, according to Bill Spindler, a scientist at the base and editor of South Pole News.



An initial purpose for the highway will be to help lay a $250-million fibre-optic cable to the Scott-Amundsen base. The cable, which should be completed within five years, will revolutionise communications at the Pole.

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