Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bering Straight Tunnel?

The Washington Times is reporting that the Russians are planning a tunnel under the Bering Straight, connecting Alaska and Siberia at a cost of some $10-12 billion. Apparently, this resurrects a plan first proposed by Czar Nicholas II before World War I.

"A planned 3,700-mile transportation corridor from Siberia into the United States will feed into the tunnel, which at 64 miles will be more than twice as long as the underwater section of the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France, according to the plan. The tunnel would run in three sections to link the two islands in the Bering Strait between Russia and the United States."

The tunnel would have a high speed rail link, energy pipelines, power and communications lines, and a highway linking the two continents. Two huge tidal hydroelectric plants are planned as part of the project, both with a capacity of up to 10 gigawatts. The proposed rail network would carry as much as 100 million tons of cargo from the Russian Far East to Canada and the US. The entire TKM- Worldlink project will cost $65 billion and take between 10 to 15 years to complete. The proposal is for private investors to own over half the project, with the other half possibly involving the two governments. Japan, China and South Korea have all expressed some interest in the project as well.

Interesting to see if this can get off the ground, the implications could be enormous, as well as the engineering challenges this area of the world presents. Greater cooperation and trade between the nations involved could be a gigantic boon to the development and the economies of the Far East.

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