Kerch Strait Bridge to be built by Sochi Olympics – governor.

29/7 Tass 335

KRASNODAR, July 29 (Itar-Tass) —— A bridge across the Kerch Strait will be ready by the Sochi Olympic Games 2014, Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachyov said on Friday.

He said Russia and Ukraine had reached a basic agreement on that project initiated by the Krasnodar territory a long time ago.

“Yet we must remember that this is a technically complicated project and its planning and fulfillment will take time. However, the bridge will open before the Olympic Games 2014, as the Russian president has ordered,” he said.

Russia and Ukraine will promote the project of a bridge across the Kerch Strait, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at the United Russia conference in Volgograd on May 6.

“It is time to start building the bridge across the Kerch Strait. I know that this event is long awaited in South Russia and the Crimea. The Ukrainian president and prime minister support the project. We will foster this project together with the Ukrainian partners,” Putin said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich declared his interest in the soonest construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait in the February 25 address to the nation dedicated to the first anniversary of his office.

“I want very much the soonest construction of this bridge, as it will broaden the capacities of our economy, especially in the Crimea,” the president said.

Yanukovich noted that Ukraine was unable to build the bridge on its own. “The project is linked to our neighbors, Russia,” he said. “President Dmitry Medvedev and I made [the project] a common goal. The Russian side and us have analyzed numerous materials. The bridge is being designed, and various options – a motor bridge, a railroad bridge, a bridge above the sea and a bridge under the sea [a tunnel] – are under consideration. The bridge across the Kerch Strait will give a fresh breath to the entire Crimean Peninsula. It means new jobs and development for Kerch,” Yanukovich said.

Russia and Ukraine announced their intention to build the bridge across the Kerch Strait on November 26, 2010.

A memorandum to that effect was signed by the two transport ministries and Vnesheconombank CEO Vladimir Dmitriyev, following a meeting of the Russia-Ukraine Interstate Council cochaired by Presidents Medvedev and Yanukovich.

The document determined the source of funding of the initial works and feasibility study of the Kerch Strait bridge, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov said.

“The cost of the project is yet unknown, and there are many technical problems, because the future construction site has complicated soil, wind and ice patters. Survey is necessary,” he said.

“The construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait is of keen interest for both countries,” Russian presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko told Itar-Tass. So far, the traffic is available on the Kavkaz-Kerch ferry line. The railroad ferry line between Kuban and the Crimea was restored after a 15-year pause on September 18, 2004.

The Kavkaz port has been servicing ferryboats that make shuttle trips across the Kerch Strait since 1953, and the railroad ferry line opened in 1955. The Nakhimov vessel tragedy suspended the ferry line operation in 1989.

“The initially negative attitude to the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait has been replaced with cautious optimism,” Prikhodko said. “The idea was put forward a long time ago, by former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov. However, we focused on the resumption of the ferry traffic due to current needs and high costs [of the bridge project],” he said.

Ukraine was very reserved about the bridge proposal when President Viktor Yushchenko was in office.

“Due to the recent growth in passenger and cargo traffic, the idea becomes topical. However, a feasibility study is necessary for making a political decision,” he said. A working group is discussing the matter.

“That would be a very expensive project, so it is necessary to make thorough calculations and to ask for the opinion of regions,” he said.

Ukraine thinks that investments must amount to no less than $900 million, and may repay in five to seven years.

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