Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Tunnel Under the Bering Strait?

This bit of proposed technology caught my eye.

Backers Make Push for Russia-U.S. Tunnel

It's intriguing to think that people are looking to recreate "the land bridge" via a $65 billion highway project that would link two of the world's most inhospitable regions by burrowing under a stretch of water connecting the Pacific with the Arctic ocean.

People have dreamed about doing this for more than a century, but war, revolution and politics always seemed to get in the way.

Walter Hickel, a former Alaska governor and interior secretary under President Richard Nixon thinks its time to change the old slogan "Workers of the world unite!" to be "Workers - Unite the world!". He said that the route would unlock hitherto untapped natural resources -- and bolster the economies of both Alaska and Russia's Far East.

The article says this:
The proposed 68-mile tunnel would be the longest in the world. It would also be the linchpin for a 3,700-mile railroad line stretching from Yakutsk -- the capital of a gold- and mineral-rich Siberian region roughly the size of India -- through extreme northeastern Russia, in waters up to 180 feet deep and into the western coast of Alaska. Winter temperatures there routinely hit minus 94 F.

By comparison, the undersea tunnel that is currently the world's longest -- the Chunnel, linking Britain and France -- is only 30 miles long.

That raises the prospect of some tantalizingly exotic routes -- train riders could catch the London-Moscow-Washington express, conference organizers suggested.

Lobbyists claimed the project is guaranteed to turn a profit after 30 years. As crews construct the road and rail link, they said, the workers would also build oil and gas pipelines and lay electricity and fiber-optic cables. Trains would whisk cargos at up to 60 mph 260 feet beneath the seabed.Eventually, 3 percent of the world's cargo could move along the route, organizers hope.
It is said that the feasibility study alone would cost $120 million and would take two years to complete and that actual construction of the road-rail-pipeline-cable effort could take up to 20 years. Vladimir Brezhnev, president of Russian construction conglomerate Transstroi, said that the technology to tackle the construction work already exists.

It is hoped that the governments of Russia, the United States, Japan, China and the European Union will endorse the tunnel as part of their economic development strategies and that government officials will raise the issue at the G-8 summit in Germany in June.

This could be an exciting prospect, despite it's cost.
I think it is wonderful that human dreams and possibilities like this could come to fruition... although I am not certain I'd want to travel 68 miles under the ocean! It is certainly a topic that one would likely see on the History Channel "Modern Marvels".