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Plan for Tunnel to Sakhalin Unveiled

Published: November 28, 2000 (Issue # 624)


MOSCOW - The Russian government is talking of reviving a grandiose Stalin-era project to build a 10-kilometer tunnel under the Pacific Ocean to connect the mainland to the island of Sakhalin and then adding a 40-kilometer bridge over the ocean to connect Sakhalin to Japan.

Officials from President Vladimir Putin on down have been talking up the project and suggest it could be under way by the end of next year.

They are doing so despite an unusually sour Japanese response to the idea, including Japan's firm insistence that it will not put a dime into what Moscow says would be a $50 billion affair.

Railways Ministry officials say the ultimate plan is to lay rails from Japan to England. Valery Yudin, a spokesman for the ministry, said "several business plans" regarding the venture would be presented next month to the ministry's top officials.

Railway Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko went a step further, telling Interfax this week that by the end of next year, his ministry "really will start construction of the tunnel under the Tatarsky Straits, which will connect the mainland with Sakhalin."

A tunnel under the straits, which are about 10 kilometers across at their most narrow point, was begun in the 1940s, and apparently workers made it almost to the half-way point. But the project was abandoned after Stalin's death and it was not clear this week if the digging done half a century ago could still be used.

After the tunnel is built, the plan is to hang what would be the world's largest bridge, stretching 40 kilometers across the Pacific, from Sakhalin to the Japanese island of Hokkaido. At the moment, the world's largest bridge is the Seti-Ohashi, a 14.5-kilometer span between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Shikoku.

Railways Ministry officials say the massive infrastructure investments would pay for themselves in 15 or 20 years. Thanks to the certain increase in cargo transit between Europe and Japan alone, Railways Ministry officials told Itar-Tass, the Russian budget could earn an additional 20 billion rubles (about $750 million) annually.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although thesand sculptures at the Peter and Paul Fortress are more centrally located and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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