After a number of false starts, Russia is about to begin the construction of its first modern railway bridge across the Amur river into China, according to Yury Trutnev, the country’s deputy prime minister and presidential plenipotentiary to the Far East.
Trutnev told journalists on Saturday, 26 March: "There are no doubts that we will start this work in the near future and will finish it in a fairly short period of time." He added, however, that a contractor had not yet been appointed.
The construction cost of the 6.5km long bridge is estimated to be $230m, of which some $87m will be paid by the Chinese government. The Tongjiang Railway Company is expected to undertake China’s share of the project.
The work is expected to take about 18 months to complete.
According to the Russian authorities, quoted on the Sputnik International website, the construction of the Russian side of the bridge will begin in June; the Chinese side began its project in August 2014.
The Russian side of the project will be financed by the Far East Development Fund and the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
An intergovernmental agreement to build the bridge was signed between Russia and China in 2008, however the Russians have announced and called off a number of dates to begin their end of the scheme. It was previously reported that the construction would begin in 2014 and 2015.
The bridge will link the city of Tongjiang in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang Province with Nizhneleninskoye in Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region. It is expected to shorten the distance between the two countries by about 700km in comparison with other railway routes.
It is expected to carry some 30 million tonnes of cargo a year when complete.
The only other rail and road bridge across the Amur is the Khabarovsk (pictured). This was built in 1999 to replace a 1916 structure that carried the Trans-Siberian railway.