Russia announces plans to build $10bn bridge to Sakhalin island

Russia is planning to build a 6km bridge to the island of Sakhalin as part of a programme of infrastructure works to boost its Far East provinces, according to Valery Limarenko, the governor of the Sakhalin region.

Limarenko told a local television station that the project would cost between $8.5bn and $10bn, and would be completed some time in the first half of the 2030s. He said: "We think that the deadline is 2035, although some optimists believe that it will happen in 2030." He added that Russian Railways had already started preliminary works on the project.

The bridge across the Nevelskoy Strait would give Russia a land route to the Sakhalin seaports of Korsakov (pictured) and Kholmsk, which remain ice-free all year round. This would also improve communications with Japan, both for Russian oil and gas and for European goods travelling on trans-Asian railways.

As well as a bridge, Russia is planning to build some 580km of rail, as well as modernising existing infrastructure.

In 2017, President Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok that Russia was also planning "in the foreseeable future" to build a 45km bridge to connect Sakhalin to the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, raising the possibility of an eventual land route between Europe and Japan.

In the nearer term, Russia is also discussing an expansion of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport into an international hub for passengers travelling between Asia and the Americas.  

Limarenko said: "We’re currently discussing the creation of the hub with businesses and some air companies, to cluster passengers in our Yuzho-Sakhalinsk and offer flights to China, Japan, Americas, to distances of around 8,000km."

Image: The port of Korsakov on Sakhalin Island (Irina Kononova/Dreamstime)

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