Kerch Strait Bridge
The Kerch Strait Bridge, or the Crimea Bridge, or the Crimean Bridge (Russian: Крымский мост, translit. krímskiy most), is a pair of parallel bridges (one for vehicular traffic, one for rail) under construction by the Russian Federation, to span the Strait of Kerch between the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai in Russia; a distance of 19 km (12 miles). The current connection is by the Kerch Strait ferry between Port Kavkaz on the Chushka Spit and Port Krym.
In January 2015, the multibillion-dollar contract for the construction of the bridge was awarded to Arkady Rotenberg's SGM Group. In May 2015, construction of the bridge commenced; the road bridge is planned to open on December 18, 2018 with completion of the rail link delayed until the end of 2019.
The bridge received its official name "Crimean Bridge" after an online vote in December 2017, with "Kerch Strait Bridge" taking second place.
Following successful construction of the Indo-European Telegraph by the British government, a railroad route from England to India, through the Crimea and across Kerch Strait was considered in the 1870s but deemed too expensive.
World War IIEdit
The idea of this bridge was first conceived by Albert Speer in early 1943. He hoped that the bridge would help spearhead the German invasion of the North Caucasus, but history ruled that it would help the Wehrwacht to retreat: from January to October 1943 the retreat of the German Caucasus Army/Army Group A, took place across the Strait of Kerch. To support the retreat the German Organisation Todt (OT) had built a ropeway across the Kerch Strait with a daily capacity of 1,000 tons. On 7 March 1943 Hitler ordered the construction of a combined road and railway bridge over the Strait of Kerch within 6 months. In April 1943, the OT had started with the construction of a combined iron road and railway war-bridge across the strait of Kerch. On 1 September 1943 concentrated Soviet attacks began on the remnants of the bridge head, so that the German retreat was accelerated. At this time the new bridge was not yet completed (only one third was completed). As part of the German retreat, the Wehrmacht blasted the already completed parts of the bridge.
The 4.5-kilometre (2.8 mi) bridge was actually built in the summer of 1944 after the liberation of the Crimea by the Red Army from the materials left on the site by the Wehrmacht. It was destroyed within six months by flowing ice, due to the absence of groynes.
Post-war Soviet timesEdit
Since 1944, various bridge projects to span the strait have been proposed or attempted.
Since the mid 1960s the Kerch hydrounit project («Керченский гидроузел») developed here. It was a system of dams and bridges across the strait. The project was not implemented in connection with the collapse of the USSR.
In 2010, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait. Russia and Ukraine signed a memorandum of mutual understanding on the construction of the bridge on 26 November 2010.
Former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov was a vocal advocate for a highway bridge across the strait, expressing hope that it would bring the Crimeans closer to Russia, both economically and symbolically.
The rejection of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement in November 2013 led to increased interest in the construction of a bridge between Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Russia. In late January 2014, the Ukrainian and Russian governments decided that a new joint Ukrainian-Russian company would be commissioned to handle the construction of the bridge, while the Russian state enterprise Russian Highways (Avtodor) would become responsible for the bridge in the long term. Additionally, it was decided a special working group would determine the location and set the technical parameters. Construction was estimated by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine to take 5 years with a cost between $1.5 and $3 billion. In early February 2014, Russian Highways (Avtodor) was instructed by the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia to work on a feasibility study to be published in 2015.
Following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in March 2014 amid the deterioration of the Ukraine-Russia relationship, president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would build a road-rail bridge over the strait, and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a governmental decree to create a subsidiary of Avtodor to oversee the project. In April, the Ukrainian government gave Russia six months notice of its withdrawal from the now-defunct bilateral Kerch Bridge agreement. The Ukrainian think tank 'Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies' believes that the bridge could reduce shipping to and from Ukrainian ports on the shores of Sea of Azov by 25-30%.
In January 2015, the contract for the construction of the bridge was awarded to the SGM Group, whose owner Arkady Rotenberg is reportedly a close personal friend of Putin and was internationally sanctioned in response to the Russian military involvement in Ukraine. SGM typically constructs pipelines and has no experience building bridges, according to BBC News.
Design of the bridgeEdit
The Russian government's draft resolution of 1 September 2014 requires the bridge to have 4 lanes of vehicle traffic and a double-track railway.
An official video from October 2015 contains a CGI concept of the bridge design, annotated with various measurements. It shows a four-lane, flat deck highway bridge running parallel with the separate two-track railway. The main span over the Kerch Strait shipping channel has a steel arch support, 227 metres wide with a 35-metre clearance above the water to allow for ships to pass under. There are three segments: from the Taman Peninsula to Tuzla Spit is 7 km; across Tuzla Island is 6.5 km; and from Tuzla Island to the Crimean Peninsula is 5.5 km (19 km total).
Construction on the bridge began in May 2015. Approximately 200 bombs from the World War II era were found in the area during pre-construction clearance. Three temporary bridges were built, to facilitate access (independent of weather and currents) for main construction. By October 2015, the first of the temporary bridges had been constructed, connecting Tuzla Island and Taman Peninsula. By March 2017, 70% of pilings for the 12-mile road bridge were in place, and almost a third of those for a parallel railway should be completed by the end of the year. The two shipping channel arches were lifted into position in August and October 2017.
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