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Thread: Russia wants tunnel to Alaska

  1. #1

    Russia wants tunnel to Alaska

    Thought some might find this proposal interesting. Russia wants to drop $12bn into building an underground tunnel across the Bering Strait.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Anything to keep the US awash in oil.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Three words I haven't seen mentioned in any of the articles about the various tunnel and bridge proposals through the years.

    Break-of-gauge.

    North America's railroads are entirely standard gauge: 1435 mm. Russia is 1520 mm.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Three words I haven't seen mentioned in any of the articles about the various tunnel and bridge proposals through the years.

    Break-of-gauge.

    North America's railroads are entirely standard gauge: 1435 mm. Russia is 1520 mm.
    This close gauge difference was an intentional thing done by the czars of the late 19th century, to make it difficult for invading armies from central and western Europe to use Russia's railroads for their own purposes - the difference is too great to simply run the trains from one to the other but too small to lay a 'third rail' to create dual-gauge track. Obviously, this is not as much of a concern today as it was during the time of Napoleon III and WWI.

    Gauge-change is not as big of a deal as one would think. 'Run through' convertable equipment exists and is used on a daily basis (ie, between Spain and France). OTOH, braking and coupling systems are also incompatible between Russia and North America. Interestingly, the exact same incompatibility exists betwwen Russian and Chinese railroads, the latter of which are fully compatible with those of North America. Also, IIRC, work is under way on a standard gauge (1435 mm) trans-Asia railway running south of Russia to allow Chinese equipment to run through directly to Europe, eliminating the need for the 'ship-rail-ship' transloading routing via North America for China-Europe trade (a lot of those containers that one sees on the USA's transcontinental railroads are in fact traveling between China and Europe).

    I would almost expect that should such a Russia-North America link be built that Russia would build most of the trackage on its end to be 1435 mm 'standard' gauge, better facilitating direct trade.

    As for 'is this shorter/faster than the current ships?', the Bering Strait tunnel would be the most direct 'great circle' routing.

    Of course, other issues would have to be addressed, too, many of them political in North America, not the least of which would be the need to use a ROW that passes through Federally designated 'Wilderness' lands in the USA (although I'd think that many Alaskans would not really have a problem with that).

    As I say on such things "We shall see".

    Mike

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Highway? Insane!

    With a ferry between Colombia and Panama you could drive to any country on any major landmass in the world except Australia.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post
    Highway? Insane!

    With a ferry between Colombia and Panama you could drive to any country on any major landmass in the world except Australia.
    If this proposal ever gets past the drawing board, I doubt the highway will come with it. There is not going to be a lot of automobile traffic between the Alaskan Bush and the Siberian wastelands. The main motivators of the tunnel are the pipelines and cables. A rail link is a reasonable addition. But a highway would not be worth the substantial added expense and added logistical problems. Of course, it will likely be possible to have your car shuttled on the train (much like one can do through the Chunnel).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Interesting idea on several levels. US and Canadian west cost ports are often strained beyond their capacity, and are the greatest bottleneck on transcontinental shipping. A rail link might be an attrctive alternative, especially from the industrial cities of the Midwest and Northeast, for those companies already shipping by rail. There would be no down time during loading/unloading, or with ships waiting to enter ports.

    It is also interesting to hear the potential for electrical generation from tides being used to power trains through the tunnel (no exhaust fumes to deal with) and potentially as an export to US and Canadian markets. Very green.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    12 billion dollars sounds absurdly low. Even after the standard 100% overrun for something like this, that's still a paltry 24 billion dollars.

    I'd wager 40 billion dollars as a reasonable lower bound.

    Seems to me like Russia is hoping to get US money to fund one of their make-work programs.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
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    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    I can't even begin to imagine what the EIS for that project would look like...
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    If Alaska's congressional delegation were to get its way, it'd probably be a blank sheet of paper.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    WOW! But I have to wonder at 10-15 years to complete and $10B -$12B in cost how is it cost effective at all?
    @GigCityPlanner

  12. #12
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    WOW! But I have to wonder at 10-15 years to complete and $10B -$12B in cost how is it cost effective at all?
    A gigantically expensive tunnel connecting Nowhere northeastern Russia with Nowhere northwestern Alaska.

    Sounds great to me!!
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Is this what you Americans call a White Elephant my comrade?
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  14. #14
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Is this what you Americans call a White Elephant my comrade?
    Yes, but Mr. Stevens loves those, so it will certainly get financed from the US side.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  15. #15
    Cyburbian amyk's avatar
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    Huh...

    As ambitious as this project sounds, I don't really ever see it coming to fruition. However, if it did, apparently we'll be able to take a highway all the way to Africa

    http://www.summitbridge.com

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Well, i'd support it. IMO, trade with Russia is one of the major reasons Alaska has put so much development into the airport. If Russia would prefer to do it's trading by rail, a tunnel to the US would be a decent way to go. And if they started actively trading through it, it wouldn't remain "nowhere". A railway would give them access to the US markets, which would help the economy there and in Alaska. And as far as break in gauge, they could also solve it in the short term by simply moving the loads to different trains, i'm sure.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian permaplanjuneau's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by njm View post
    If Alaska's congressional delegation were to get its way, it'd probably be a blank sheet of paper.
    HA! That's so true it's almost not funny.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally posted by amyk View post
    As ambitious as this project sounds, I don't really ever see it coming to fruition. However, if it did, apparently we'll be able to take a highway all the way to Africa

    http://www.summitbridge.com
    In theory, i think this is a GREAT idea, but unfortunately i do not see this happening in any of our lifetimes, or our great-great grandchildren's lifetime for that matter... Would cost waaaay too much money

  19. #19

    might as well go for the full monty

    If they're thinking of doing this, we might as well get France involved and buy a 350mph TGV train to run through it. I'd buy that ticket.

  20. #20

    Endangered species?

    Would the Russian Tunnel, or "Runnel", harm the migratory habits of the Alaskan king crabs, the opilio crabs or the (recently off of the federal protected list) baridi crabs?

    Been watching too much "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel...

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by EMick23 View post
    Would the Russian Tunnel, or "Runnel", harm the migratory habits of the Alaskan king crabs, the opilio crabs or the (recently off of the federal protected list) baridi crabs?

    Been watching too much "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel...
    I am guessing it would have to be hundreds of feet below the seabed.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I am guessing it would have to be hundreds of feet below the seabed.
    I would expect it to be a deep, TBM bored tunnel, too.

    Mike

  23. #23
    Cyburbian ICT/316's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post
    Highway? Insane!

    With a ferry between Colombia and Panama you could drive to any country on any major landmass in the world except Australia.
    It would make for the ultimate round the world rally race!!!

    Bill

  24. #24
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    this is the exact thought I had

    Quote Originally posted by jordanb View post
    12 billion dollars sounds absurdly low. Even after the standard 100% overrun for something like this, that's still a paltry 24 billion dollars.

    I'd wager 40 billion dollars as a reasonable lower bound.

    Seems to me like Russia is hoping to get US money to fund one of their make-work programs.
    this is the exact thought I had. In San Francisco we can get about 1.5 miles of subway for about 6 billion

  25. #25
    Cyburbian dominimami305's avatar
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    what???

    so the heck with global warming and environmental justice and natural resource preservation and CRAP like that, huh?!?!?!? WOW...

    it amazes me that IDEAS like these are even considered! i hope we have something left so the next generations wont repeat history.

    And now im done!
    Last edited by dominimami305; 12 Jun 2007 at 2:47 PM. Reason: more ranting..lol

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