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103 kilometers later, Russia will be a little closer to Alaska

The Russian Government recently unveiled plans to build the world's longest tunnel, as part of a $65 billion USD project to develop Siberia and warm Russian-U.S. relations.  The tunnel will supply the US with oil, natural gas and even electricity.

The tunnel -- which will include a highway, high-speed rail lines, pipelines, and high-power cables -- will run under the sea in the Bering Strait and connect Russia directly to Alaska.  At 103 kilometers long, it will be over twice as long as the Channel Tunnel between England and France.

The project was unveiled by the Russian Economy Ministry under the name TKM-WorldLink, and will be jointly financed by government and private interests.  Russia plans to formally present the plan to the U.S. Government this week.  Alaska's former governor, Walter Joseph Hickel, is already in Moscow to give a series of talks on the project.

Tsar Nicholas II approved plans in 1905 to connect Siberia and Alaska via an undersea tunnel, but the outbreak of World War I and Nicholas' subsequent death prevented construction from ever starting.

Japanese engineers have offered to drill the tunnel for $60 million per kilometer, a mere $6 billion.  However, the drill cost is only a fraction of the cost of the total project; the Russian side of the strait requires approximately 3,500 kilometers of road, pipe and rail that don't exist yet.  The U.S. side would require at least half that as well. 

In total, the proposition calls for 6,000 km of infrastructure. Conservative estimates put the project completion time at around thirteen years





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