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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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RE: Oh lord.
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2007 10:06:36 AM , Rating: 2
You forget though. The article stated that not just government but private industry money will go into building the tunnel. The Russian government may not have the cash to build it on its own, but with private sector money as well, it is feasible. Companies stand to gain just as much as the government from this.

And Russia is a far different place now vs. in 93. Not saying that its perfect but its not the iron block you came from anymore.

RE: Oh lord.
By alifbaa on 4/24/2007 10:23:15 AM , Rating: 2
I guess I'm not understanding what that investment will be for?

Let's say tomorrow a high-speed rail connection between Moscow and LA miracled itself and you could travel from one to the other in an hour. Would anyone ride that train? I can't imagine why. There isn't a whole lot of business between the two cities, nor between any Russian city and any other American city, so what's the point?

What about a high-speed data line? Russia is more expensive than India to outsource to, but perhaps there is a little profitability in this, but these lines already exist and are cheaply built if they aren't.

The only thing I could imagine being a good idea would be to connect the Aleaska (sp?) pipeline with a Russian pipeline. This would give us access to another large source of oil. Our oil markets are diversified and large enough that Gazprom couldn't play games with us like they try to in Europe.

RE: Oh lord.
By GotDiesel on 4/24/2007 2:14:59 PM , Rating: 3
LOL.. this is a balancing act.. we have multitudes of wets coming over from mexico, this new tunnel will provide easy access for russian immigrants..

RE: Oh lord.
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2007 3:26:50 PM , Rating: 3
Sure unless you think first and realize that temperatures in said tunnel will mostly likely be near freezing and its doubtful that anyone would be able to survive the walk even if they could make it. It's not like there's going to be tons of open space in this tunnel that people can walk around in.

There will likely be a train coming through it every hour that would kill anyone in the tunnel. The only possible place would be in maintenance shafts but those would be sealed from the outside on both ends so even if you got in one side, you couldn't get out.

Not to mention the fact that I'm sure any and all accesses on both sides would likely be under armed guard to prevent any terrorist attack from getting into and blowing up the tunnel.

RE: Oh lord.
By mezman on 4/24/2007 4:21:17 PM , Rating: 2
The tunnel -- which will include a highway

Why do you assume they would walk? Why walk when you can drive/ride? :)

RE: Oh lord.
By vanka on 4/24/2007 4:09:57 PM , Rating: 3
this new tunnel will provide easy access for russian immigrants..

Seeing as how Siberia is Russia's least populace region (with a declining population due to decreased government support after the Soviet collapse), who's going to brave the tunnel. The indigenous peoples of Siberia have no desire to leave; they mostly want to be left alone. Transportation to Siberia from the rest of the country is very limited; the government will be able to clamp down on the amount of traffic going there - especially when most of them don't return.

Also, as someone mentioned Siberia is very cold. Summer is usually a couple weeks, a month or two each for spring and autumn, with winter taking the rest of the calendar. The tunnel will be in a very inconvenient and cold location while the US/Mexico border is very convenient and warm most of the year.

RE: Oh lord.
By rudy on 4/24/2007 4:50:52 PM , Rating: 3
You are completely missing the point.

The US imports hundreds of billions from China alone and this might be a cheaper way. Throw in all the other asian out sourcing and even if it cost 200 billion it could still be worth it for both sides. Toll fees to cross would be taken from everyone in Eurasia. Mid eastern oil, whatever Europe exports wine, cars, and everything asia exports will be crossing that thing.

Both Russia and Alaska/Canada would see economic growth as they find everyone in the world shipping and traveling through their territory.

Russia is probably just looking at this from the perspective of how can we tap into the tremendous trade the US carries out with Asia.

RE: Oh lord.
By SigmaHyperion on 4/24/2007 5:31:56 PM , Rating: 3
Marine shipping is, by far, the cheapest form of mass transporation in the world. You can be damned sure that virtually everything moving by ship today would continue moving by ship in the future.

About the only things that would change over to a tunnel would be expedited freight. Stuff that's too large to effectively move by air but needs to get to its' destination in a matter of several days rather than several weeks. The costs would be too great for the cheap stuff and the capacity too limited. I would say passengers could change over from Air to Rail too -- but who in the world would realistically consider making that trip via the ground. It'd be a beautiful vacation, but not a realistic means of transit between the two continents.

Yeah, the continents are real close up near the top, but everyone would want to get way down to the bottom. LA to Beijing would be over 7500 miles. Even if you could go a constant 50mph (and you couldn't) you'd be looking at 7 day trip each way.

Not to mention the needed infrastructure development outside of the tunnel to have it transport commodities from China to the US would probably be the single largest transporation investment made since the US Rail boom of the late 1800's. You're talking about needing to lay 15000+ miles of rail which would take decades of work. The costs would be truly astronomical. All to make stuff move faster than it does by ship.

RE: Oh lord.
By peternelson on 5/11/2007 1:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
Aside from the gas, etc mentioned, I would say that a major benefit is to run cheap and maintainable fibre optic telecomms links through it, as exist in the Channel Tunnel. The cost of new undersea cables and repeaters is expensive, not to mention maintainance problems. Telcos pay a lot of money for that, which will subsidise the cost of tunnel construction. If it's only twice the channel tunnel link I say it's well worth the small cost. With a bit of government subsidy I'm sure the rest can be raised from investors or floating on the stock markets.

RE: Oh lord.
By vanka on 4/24/2007 3:55:55 PM , Rating: 3
And Russia is a far different place now vs. in 93.

I too emigrated from the former Soviet Union (from what was the Ukrainian Republic at the time) in '89 and when we left we PAID to renounce our Soviet citizenship. Your assertion that Russia is a better place now than in '93 is flat out wrong.

The people of Russia enjoyed the greatest political and religious freedom in the decade following the collapse of the USSR; right up until the point that Putin took power. Now that doesn't mean that everything was perfect; the mob/mafia was (is) very much in control and corruption was rampant in all levels of public office. When collective farms or factories were "privatized", all the equipment usually was sold to the farm/factory/plant administrator - usually at the very low price of $0. When a farm/factory/plant was too big to "privatize" in such a manner it was usually sold at a fraction of market value to the friends or relatives of the auctioneer. People wonder why Russia has such a large number of billionaires (largest number in the world if I'm not mistaken) while the rest of the population is barely above starving; well now you know.

Russia has gotten better in some respects since those times but the political, social, and market climate has gotten steady worse since Putin took office. The biggest TV network critical of the president (NTV) was acquired by the government and its editorial staff replaced. A billionaire critical of the government was tried on trumped up charges and his oil company re-collectivized. Dissidents are routinely arrested (recently international chess champion Garry Kasparov) or just disappear. New laws are passed to reduce the influence of non-government organizations (NGOs); with even natively founded and funded NGOs accused of being puppets for foreign states. To those who grew up during Soviet rule these incidents are eerily familiar; especially when the tactics used by the FSB (the successor of the KGB - different name, same people), police, and military are the same as those of their Soviet counterparts.

In short you're wrong, he's right.

RE: Oh lord.
By Pirks on 4/26/2007 12:00:52 PM , Rating: 1
vanka, think about history, about the fact that only the great kings/emperors are remembered, like Peter the Great. now compare Putin with weak and unstable government of your Ukrainian guy Yushenko, a pro-American president - so you want same level of permanent crisis (shit, I almost said crysis... damned shooters :) happening in Russia? I have a feeling that a lot of Russians look at corrupted pool of mud that the current Ukrainian government is and think "ah, thank god we have such a strong and stable president as Putin"

imagine what happens if pro-American "democratic" president takes over Kremlin - Russia immediately dissolves into a crowd of corrupted little kingdoms, because right now they need a strong guy to beat them all into submission. this American style democracy shit just ain't gonna work in Russia or Iraq or any other contry with non-American culture.

btw I listen to Shenderovich and his "Plavleny syrok" all the time and also I saw Maxim Galkin making fun of Putin and his.. er.. interaction with Queen Elizabeth :) this was great fun! and you know what - somehow both Shenderovish, Irtenyev (and that crazy guy-mozgoved with them) and Galkin are alive and kicking, nobody arrested them although they publicly mock Russian government and Putin personally. no freedom of speech anymore, you say? nah, won't cut it... yet. think again.

RE: Oh lord.
By vanka on 4/26/2007 8:01:41 PM , Rating: 2
now compare Putin with weak and unstable government of your Ukrainian guy Yushenko

Most of Yushenko's problems can be traced back to his efforts to rid the government of corrupt politicians; most of which are cozy with the Russian government. I support Yushenko's efforts to modernize the country and its economy and oppose Yanukovich's strong arm tactics of trying to gain power. During the '04 election Yanukovich's campaign hired thugs to incite riots amongst the protesters; luckily the thugs got drunk before fulfilling their assignment and beat themselves up on the way. Many of Ukraine's internal problems are the direct result of Russia's meddling. Russia does not want Ukraine to grow closer to the West/Europe and will try anything to prevent it.

imagine what happens if pro-American "democratic" president takes over Kremlin - Russia immediately dissolves into a crowd of corrupted little kingdoms, because right now they need a strong guy to beat them all into submission.

Why would it dissolve? Who exactly are they trying to beat into submission. All, except Chechnya, who wanted to break away from Russian rule did so during the early 90's. Most Russians would probably be happy to see Chechnya go; I think that the Kremlin would have let them go a long time ago if it wasn't for their wounded pride and the fact that Chechnya is a terrorist breeding ground. Also, I fail to see why a strong leader has to be an authoritarian or a dictator.

no freedom of speech anymore, you say?

Why not provide a quote of when I said that? What I did allude to was that dissidents are being arrested and several reporters who were critical of the Kremlin and Putin have disappeared. Yes there is still free speech but it is seriously curtailed. When the government buys out a news station that is one of its biggest critics, something is up. When peaceful protesters are arrested without case (under an anti-demonstration law passed for the specific purpose) something is up. When people critical of the government find themselves under investigation, then locked up and left penniless; something is up.

There is a big difference between having a good-natured joke at Putin's expense and being left alone (Galkin) and being arrested for protesting the government's policies (Kasparov). What worries me and many others is the very evident erosion of people's rights and freedoms in Russia. What is even more worrying is the promotion of xenophobia and attempts to homogenize the political views of the population. That is what smacks of a return to Soviet attitudes.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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