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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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This has severe consequences
By Hawkido on 4/24/2007 11:41:23 AM , Rating: 3
The Flu Virus currently runs east to west. The most severe outbreaks come from transcontenintal flights bringing it to the US before the medicine industry can develop the proper anti-virals. With a high speed train the mass of people crossing the pacific would double or even triple. The prolonged contact via dining cars and lavatories would guarantee the communication of the virus to most all of the passengers. The Flu would be the next major killer weapon imported from the Soviets.

That aside, I think access to the oil fields would be a good thing for both the US and the Soviet nations. It would stabilize oil prices, and open reserves up that aren't even being touched in Siberia. As to the rail differential there would be a customs checkpoint at both ends of the tunnel and everyone would have to disembark anyway, so a rail change wouldn't be too difficult at that point. Cargo containers could be inspected then crained over to the other rail size.




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