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'What has enabled Russia to rise among the great powers of the world…has been the conquest of Siberia'
W.Bruce Lincoln

Could Chinese money finally bridge the Lena River and usher economic upsurge?

By The Siberian Times reporter
01 August 2015

Long-held dream for a crossing at Yakutsk gets a boost from China. 

A crossing would finally connect the world's coldest city to the Trans-Siberian Railway network via a new connecting line from the Baikal Amur Mainline, which stops on the other side of the Lena. Picture: Transmost

Major Beijing interests - the China Railway Construction Corporation, China Development Bank (CDB) and four other Chinese construction companies - have expressed interested in financing construction of a bridge across the Lena. 

A crossing would finally connect the world's coldest city to the Trans-Siberian Railway network via a new connecting line from the Baikal Amur Mainline, which stops on the other side of the Lena. 

Chairman of Hua Tsing An Zu Company, Mr Chzu Chun Yui, said: 'We are highly interested in the project. Now we cannot even predict what type of transportation will go on the bridge over 20-40 years.

'So with the development of the project we must take everything into account. When using global technologies, development and experience of Chinese companies we could build a bridge in three and a half years.' 

Lena bridge


Lena bridge

A bridge would connect Yakutsk with the settlement of Nizhny Bestyakh on the opposite bank of Lena River. Nizhny Bestyakh is the last station on AYAM railway and it also connects to three federal highways - 'Viluy', 'Kolyma' and 'Lena', as well as several regional. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Transmost

Significantly he also predicted: 'In my visit to the Far East of Russia, Yakustk is the main point. Yakutia (also known as the Sakha Republic) can become a driving force of the economic zone along the Silk Road.'

He proposed a joint fund for financial support of investment projects in the Russian Far East, and especially Yakutia, the biggest region in size in the Russian Federation.

On 26 July, senior Sakha officials Evgeniy Chekin and Alexey Zagorenko met with the CEO of the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) Representative Office in Russia, Peng Minkuan. 

Alexey Zagorenko, CEO of the Investment Development Agency in Sakha, presented the investment project 'Construction of the bridge across the Lena River in Yakutsk'. 

In recent years there was optimism the bridge - a dream for decades - could be built and some critics say the new crossing to Crimea is replacing it, with funds diverted to this crossing instead. 

Introducing the great new Siberian railway, opening soon


Introducing the great new Siberian railway, opening soon


Introducing the great new Siberian railway, opening soon


Introducing the great new Siberian railway, opening soon

Project of the railway bridge across Lena river, and views from AYAM construction site. Pictures: Transmost, Ministry of Transport and Roads of Sakha Republic (Yakutia)

This is denied by Russian officials but Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov is cautious on the economics of a crossing which could combine rail and road. 'Without understanding the parameters of the Road Fund after 2020, it is premature to take the decision to launch this project,' he said. Despite this, Yakutia will present the bridge project to the  Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on 3-5 September and hope for more proposals. 

A bridge would connect Yakutsk with the settlement of Nizhny Bestyakh on the opposite bank of Lena River. Nizhny Bestyakh is the last station on AYAM railway and it also connects to three federal highways - 'Viluy', 'Kolyma' and 'Lena', as well as several regional. 

In November 2012 the authorities of Yakutia and the Ministry of Transport agreed to build the bridge, but in December last year, the country's leadership instructed to delay construction until after 2020.

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