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A Bridge Between the USA and Russia


The relationship between the USA and Russia is complicated. JFK: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile, launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States.” *Intense laughter* JFK: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Their rivalry defined the second half of the 20th century. Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.” Millions are spent each year trying to improve relations, and even more spent undermining them again. To many their opposites; chalk and cheese, vodka and apple pie, Oceania vs Eurasia, East vs West. It’s easy to forget that only 51 miles separates them. If we’re going to spend so much time, energy and money trying to build bridges between Russia and America, then why not just build an actual bridge? In 1986 Ronald Reagan gave engineer Tung Yun Lin a National Medal of Science, Lin handed back to him a 16-page plan for an intercontinental peace bridge. Whether for environmental, financial, or political reasons a bridge across the Bering Strait has been on someone’s agenda ever since. Most of this talk has come to nothing, but in 2015 Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping started to make some actual plans. *Theme music* The Bering Strait is a 51 mile sea passage separating Siberia and Alaska. In 1867 the US bought Alaska for 7.2 million dollars or 2 cents an acre. This created a new border right down the middle separating two small islands, Big Diomede (Russian), and Little Diomede (now American). The same boundary is followed today by the International Date Line, giving the Diomedes the adorable nicknames of “Tomorrow Island” and “Yesterday Isle”. Ever since the Cold War Big Diomede and most of Russia’s Eastern Shore has been a military zone. No travel is permitted. In fact, you can’t arrive or depart there even with a Russian visa. The closest you can get is the port of Provideniya, and even then you should probably get permission before rocking up. This hasn’t stopped people trying though, in 2006 Karl Bushby and Dimitri Kieffer navigated the strait’s ice floes on foot. However Lynne Cox swam between the Diomedes in 1987, The public support was so immense that Reagan and Gorbachev thanked her at the signing of the nuclear forces treaty. Gorbachev: “It took a daring American girl by the name of Lynne Cox a mere two hours to swim the distance separating our two countries, By her courage she showed how close to each other our two peoples live.” Trump: “We’re not gonna let them violate a nuclear agreement, and go out and do weapons. So we’re going to terminate the agreement. We’re gonna pull out.” We could really do with another Lynne Cox right now. Something to bring the US and Russia together. The whole world a little closer. Even if it has to be marketed to us as a trade deal or a “Trans-Pacific Infrastructure Investment”. A bridge would be a common project, a physical link forcing superpowers to cooperate. But ignoring all political and financial hurdles for now. Is it even possible? Currently the world’s longest sea bridge is 34 miles across, Connecting Hong Kong to Zhuhai and Macau in China. And although the Bering Strait is 51 miles, the longest bridge you’d actually have to build would only be 26. The Diomedes make two perfect stopping points. You could build a US bridge on one side and a Russian bridge on the other. In fact, make it a race the loser has to build the three-mile bridge connecting the two. Construction would be slow, for seven months of the year the temperature is well below freezing, and although the Strait rarely freezes large chunks of ice are funneled through the passage from the Arctic. These ice floes would exert enormous pressure on any structure we built. There may be engineering solution around this, but perhaps the simplest would be to scrap the bridge and dig a tunnel. Tunnels may not lend themselves to metaphors as well, but they’re warmer, often cheaper over long distances, you can lay gas, oil, and electricity alongside. They’re protected from harsh weather, and ships can still pass above them. With the Arctic ice caps melting, the Bering Strait could become a very busy shipping lane in the next 20 years. The Strait is relatively shallow, the maximum depth is only 55 metres. The Channel Tunnel is a hundred metres below sea level. That opened in 1994 connecting the UK to Europe, and that relationship is going swimmingly. A tunnel (unlike a bridge) doesn’t have to intersect the Diomedes, it can start and end at more convenient points. But therein lies the problem. There are no convenient points. Here’s a map of the Alaskan and Siberian road networks, the closest highways are 2,000 miles apart. In Russia anything east of Magadan is impossible to get to by car. And although there are plans for major Alaskan routes, anything west of Fairbanks is tricky. Tunnelling under the Bering Strait would be the easy part, you’d also have to build thousands of miles of roads, over rough terrain, in incredibly harsh conditions. And after all that you’ve still got to persuade people to drive it. The only sensible option would be a train. You’ll still face all the same obstacles during construction, but a warm high-speed railroad from Anchorage to Vladivostok is way more convenient than a 60 hour drive through the Arctic. The main use of such a railroad would be freight. If we extend the network through North America and into China, it could transport a significant amount of the world’s cargo. But now we’ve got one of the biggest engineering projects in the world, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. Is there a need for it? An Arctic railroad would have to compete with our existing freight network, boats and planes. The busiest shipping route in the world by cargo is China to North America. So let’s say we want to ship one metric ton between the two busiest ports, Shanghai to Vancouver. We’ve got four options; ship, air, rail ,and road. A boat can do it in 15 to 20 days, cost us $300, and produce 225kg of CO2. Plane: 1 day, $3,500, 4,400kg. A train: 2 to 4 days, $400, 630kg. And a truck: 7 to 10 days, $900, 1,050kg. If speed is the priority and money no object, a plane is the way to go. But if speed doesn’t matter and you want the best value for money then shipping is the clear winner. Ships and planes account for 90% of global trade, that is a lot of fuel being burned all day, every day. Diesel trains are not environmentally friendly, but both Alaska and Siberia have stores of untapped geothermal energy. We need to replace as many major transport routes as possible with renewable alternatives, and high-speed electric trains are one of them. There’d definitely be a market for an Arctic railroad, it would dramatically improve travel time without an enormous increase in price. Whether it would be profitable for whoever built it though is another matter. It would have to be a financier with very deep pockets, and probably an ulterior motive. That pretty much leaves three options; Russia, America, or China. China are building railways and shipping ports everywhere. They’re already building high-speed railways connecting Europe, Africa and Asia. All with China as the central hub. They don’t just want to be at the crossroads. They want to be the crossroads, for all future international trade and transport. That means North and South America are definitely on the agenda. In fact, they proposed a high-speed railway connecting china to the US in 2007. Putin has given China approval to build through Siberia. And then in 2015 China and Russia announced they were collaborating, to build the Siberia and Alaska passage together. This is mostly just talk, but it’s getting louder and more frequent. There’s a reasonable chance of it happening with or without US involvement. It would be a real shame if multiple countries didn’t cooperate on this project. Not to mention the dangerous power dynamic it could create. An Arctic railroad connecting China, Russia, and the US would be an amazing achievement. An opportunity for three superpowers, currently jostling for their place in the century, to collaborate on a common project. One that could genuinely improve the world, environmentally, financially, and politically.

Stephen Childs

100 Comments

  1. Honestly if Russia and the United States were friends we’d be almost unstoppable lol

  2. Eurasia is only used because Siberia is so European, without it it would be Europe and Asia on everything

  3. So much illegal stuff will be able for transportation, were talking about maximum security

  4. 7:23 what about Canada don’t they need to agree as well if it’s going through there?

  5. Trump would want to build a raaailwaaaay, the greatest raaaillwaaayyy in the wooorlddd where he can take his traaaainn, the greatest traaaaainnn in the wooorlddd out for a riiiiide, the greatest riiiideee in the wooorlddd

  6. Lay off the anti-Canada crap people. They have got their share of idiots but you won't find better friends when the chips are down.

  7. Nah , if Russia wanted a bridge , they would have built one decades ago !! Truth time !! The US cannot be trusted at anything , period !!!! Think about it .

  8. It's a little harder than just saying "hey, lets build a railroad", because the track gauges are different. So trains from different countries would be incompatible. Also, if they are going to build a railroad, it will HAVE to be powered by diesel (or steam if you want to go crazy). This railroad will be the main shipping route from china to the US, and the electric lines wont be able to hold up to the harsh weather. And even if they could, they would still be prone to sabotage, and that's not food considering that this will be the main shipping route between the east and west hemisphere. Some idiot with a rifle could come along and shoot the lines down, and with that, he will have pretty much shot down the entire economy as well.

  9. Yeah that is amazing
    Than Russia can sell nukes to America so
    America can be even more powerfull

  10. As long as US-Russia relations remain cold such a bridge is impossible.Leaving aside the fact that the cost would be enormous with uncertain benefits no way would anyone approve of such a plan.Imagine proposing such a plan in Congress.There would be almost unanimous opposition.Russia and the US are enemies the only one who doesn't get it is Trump.

  11. Can't there be a techno documentary without political bias? "Ice cap melting?" Private investors with "ulterior motives?" You mean, like a return on their investment and risk? Stick to the engineering.

  12. The people from Canada are freaking awesome, this video director was just to lazy to fit them into his script.

  13. Wow who you trying to fool your mommy you must live in her basement the UK in the EU for one or not friendly anymore haven't been for years

  14. trump is DESTROYING AMERICA! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Buh-bye America! : )

  15. crazy talk it will be the end of America and of course China and Russia would want this. It is predicted in the bible that China and russia would join together. Trump would be the one to do it for money and money wouldn't say no. There are many of us in the United States that see through the lies in this video and will share with the world. I was woken up in a and from a dream to learn about this. No way, the United States would be smart and wise to built an military base there now.

  16. Imagine while china builds the rail road they pass by china town and end up forgetting theyre in the US

  17. Why don’t they just set up a few massive ferries that can go back and forth with cars and supplies. And just charge a reasonable fee to use the ferry. It would be much more economical that the estimated 105 billion dollars it would take to build it

  18. Canada would be an important partner. The world would be a better place if USA, Russia and China worked more together and less against one another and maintain their own national sovereignty. Such cooperation faces a lot of "resistance" by the world's private military industrial complex, the Tech Giants, financiers like Soros and Buffett, and "New World Order" politicians who envision a market socialism wherein the government and a handful of financiers (Rothschilds, Soros, Buffett, etc) work with big business (Bezos, Walton, Nestle, Ma, etc) to ensure there is a high level of conflict. They profit by dividing the world's people.

  19. And how long before Russia is empty for people, less than a week, a few years ago they could not even leave their country for vacation. People only live in Russia because they are forced, who wants poverty and cold year round XD

  20. And how long before Russia is empty for people, less than a week, a few years ago they could not even leave their country for vacation. People only live in Russia because they are forced, who wants poverty and cold year round XD

  21. Its a great idea in concept. However the world of politics is not ready yet. My fear is that it would not be useful for shipping. Instead they would start jostling for military use of it instead. Just saying.

  22. Remind me again why the USA helped a mass killer like Stalin during WW2? A blood thirsty Pagan anti Western despot who Gulag'd over 30 million people – millions never seen again.
    He actually made Hitler look like a Nobel Peace Laureate.

  23. Nah tbh i love russia but not enough to waste money on building a fuking bridge when there are giant garbage patches near the same area. Cmon people spend money wisely not stupidly.

  24. You idiots who laughed at Sarah Palin in 2008 for saying that you can see Russian land from Alaska now realize how stupid you were? Diomede Islands.

  25. A partnership between these two great nations would only advantages for countries! These two great superpowers belong united: All problems, globally, could be quickly solved, once these two super-nations come together!

  26. 5:45 so can someone explain how a truck can go from China to Canada in 9 to 10 days cause how is there any road to get there…?

  27. Now this is a greater waste of money the Trumps wall, How many vehicles a week would cross and the toll would be ?

  28. Canada is just a service stop where people can buy soda and snacks and use the toilet lol

  29. Most Russian railroads are electrified and most locomotives run not on diesel but on electric power taken by trails from wires above the roads. So, CO2 is not an issue in terms of railways in Russia. Not easy project though. Probably next generations will accomplish it, in 100 years.

  30. Hey i'm from Russia and i really would like our nations to open up towards each other, but a superexpensive bridge across the middle of nowhere is about the worst way to get it done. No offense to Megastructures fans.

  31. Both country's media are owned by Jews. Look it up. It's a common game to pit them against each other for Israel's interest.

  32. Mi opinion es clara Rusay EEUU, son sistemas antagonicos,quementras coexstan,sol habra hguerras,hambrey miseria en el Mundo.

  33. CO2 – why do you post that info? CO2 is fantastic for the environment. Only an ignorant child would say otherwise.

  34. Alaska era un territorio de Canadá que EE.UU compra a finales del Siglo XIX por razones de estrategia, es probable para que URSS y el comunismo no formen parte de los EE.UU- EE.UU es un Estado Aliado de Canadá, porque es más serio que México.
    Pero también existe ldea de los EE.UU y Rusia de hacer un Puente en el Estrecho de Bering solo para la transferencia e intercambio de Productos desde el punto de vista economico

  35. Alaska was a territory of Canada that the US buys at the end of the 19th century for strategic reasons, it is likely that the USSR and communism are not part of the US – the US is an Allied State of Canada, because it is more serious than Mexico.

  36. On March 30, 1867, the United States reached an agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia for a price of $7.2 million. The Treaty with Russia was negotiated and signed by Secretary of State William Seward and Russian Minister to the United States Edouard de Stoeckl.

  37. A concerted effort of great leaders with open-minded vision for world peace and prosperity to bring about unity will make it happen. This is the greatest project that still remains to be seen by generations to come after us.❤️

  38. It is not going to happen if US insists that they want to be the leader and the only leader. See what is the problem of this world?

  39. As presidents they act like enemies but as templars of whatever variety they all work towards their goal. They are not all of the same race but they are family.

  40. Interesting concept. But nuclear containerships more likely come to the scene. Electric trains are more likely on China-Russia-Europe destination. Only Russia can guarantee cheap and ecological hydropower for those trains

  41. Connecting bridge to USA-Canada-Russia-China and India 🌏🌎 world is truly small..

  42. A bridge would be insane. A tunnel would make a whole lot more sense. It would not be subject to weather so could operate all year round. It wouldn't be a danger to shipping, nor shipping a danger to it.

  43. If there was such a railway, I would love to go to Alaska, but there is one problem, it's getting from Krasnodar to Magadan.

  44. There is no way we're going to allow China to build infrastructure in America, especially a railway connecting China to the US, which can be used in an invasion. That's mental. There is NO chance of a Siberia-Alaska passage happening without US involvement. If this ever has a chance of happening, it'll be without China's involvement.

  45. Canada is the 51 th state of USA
    So you all Canadians should shut UP America owns you all

  46. This will never happen.. first Russia can't be trusted.. second Russia and China would use the bridge to invade the US.. look what's happening with Ukraine and Russia.. and Ukraine is much closer..

  47. Train is obviously the best value for money option when considering both speed and time…

  48. With the orange buffoon at the helm for the USA, just forget about it. Won't waste my time explaining why. No need.

  49. That project has no sense without MAGLEV…can you imagine the COST of trans-siberian magnetic train? BIG NOPE!!!
    Plus the tunnel is far better option because region is IINSALELY active and danger (tsunami, quakes,other attractions like icebergs)
    5:35 – i disliked. STOP making CO2 propaganda! CO2 is proven to be NEUTRAL gas! Do PV=nRT to see HOW STUPID you are !!!

  50. Both are great nations. We must come together with respect and continue to be good neighbors not enemies.

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