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A Russian railway mogul plans to build a giant bridge from the US to Europe

August 06, 2015 13:31
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If this becomes a reality, it's going to set the scene for the ultimate cross-continental road trip. The president of the Russian railway network, Vladimir Yakunin, is concocting an ambitious plan to connect his country to Alaska via a huge bridge - it would be the final link in a theoretical 'mega-road' that would run through the United States, Russia, and Europe.

Don't get your hopes up just yet, because Yakunin first proposed the idea back in March and is struggling to convince governments and private enterprise to stump up the cash for it. Reports suggest that he's currently trying to negotiate some kind of agreement with the Chinese government, which is also looking to improve its national infrastructure.


The proposed bridge across the Bering Strait would only be one part of the jigsaw. The plans include significant upgrades for road networks across Alaska, connecting the remote city of Nome to the rest of the country (today Nome is usually reached by air, boat, or dog-sled). Roads across Russia would also be upgraded, with a brand new highway running alongside the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Some 9,977 km (6,200 miles) would have to be negotiated from one end of Russia to the other, and Yakunin wants to upgrade the railway and other infrastructure at the same time. It could eventually become an important and profitable trade route, as well as a demanding road trip for the most adventurous of travellers. The economic benefits would be felt all along the new route, according to Yakunin and his partners.

"This is an inter-state, inter-civilisation, project," Yakunin told The Siberian Times. "It should be an alternative to the current (neo-liberal) model, which has caused a systemic crisis. The project should be turned into a world 'future zone', and it must be based on leading, not catching, technologies."

The Russian Railway president still has plenty of details to work out and as yet there's no sign of support from the US.

The name of this outlandish proposal is the Trans-Eurasian Belt Development and the cost is expected to hit trillions of US dollars by the time it's finished. With that in mind, it's no wonder that no one is too keen to pony up the cash right now. Yakunin can't be faulted for his ambition though, and he remains committed to getting the project off the ground. If you're going to eventually take on the road trip, stock up first: it's going to end up being close to 20,921 km (13,000 miles).


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