The Russians are coming? But will WE ever have a fixed link?

by Yule Heibel on April 27, 2007

The Times Online reports that Russia plans $65bn tunnel to America. Yes, not only does Russia plan a floating nuclear power plant (now there’s a bad idea if ever there was one), but now some folks there have a tunnel under the Bering Strait in mind. Ok, so you could eventually take a train from Paris to New York (via Siberia), but this wouldn’t be for the tourists:

Russian officials insist that the tunnel is an economic idea whose time has now come and that it could be ready within ten years. They argue that it would repay construction costs by stimulating up to 100 million tons of freight traffic each year, as well as supplying oil, gas and electricity from Siberia to the US and Canada.

It seems just as likely they’ll want our oil & gas — not the other way around.

But imagine a rail line from Paris to New York, though. Oh well, here on Vancouver Island we’ll continue to muddle on in splendid island isolation.


melanie April 27, 2007 at 10:28 pm

I think the Russians have a lot more oil and gas than you do (I can’t cite a source for this though).

What would be the economic justification for a tunnel from Vancouver Island? Passengers wouldn’t be enough. Besides ferries are fun and have a calming effect on their temporary prisoners (on me anyway!).

yulelog April 30, 2007 at 11:23 pm

There’ll never be a tunnel from Vancouver Island to the mainland — it’s too tricky a terrain. But we could have another kind of fixed link, i.e., a bridge. The justification? Economic, for sure. Vancouver benefitted tremendously from getting the railway terminal 100+ years ago — after that, everything migrated (economically, culturally) away from Victoria (which has a great harbour and is a lot closer to other West Coast as well as Asian ports than Vancouver is). A bridge would essentially connect us up. But it probably won’t happen. Too expensive, too tricky, too political. From my windows, I can see the US (specifically, the Olympic Mountain range and Port Angeles, which is just across the narrow, if deep, Strait of Juan de Fuca), but that whole barrel of monkeys is in another country. If we ever built a bridge, it’d have to go to a piece of the Canadian mainland, and that’s far far to the north of us. Nanaimo (also on Vancouver Island), to the north of us, directly across from Vancouver, has a better chance of getting a fixed link. Victoria is too far south. We are in fact below the 49th parallel, which is commonly believed to be area that “belongs” to the US.

Economically, we’d be a house on fire if it was easier to get here (and to leave — ah, to leave, and then return…!). But as it stands, we’re an island, below the 49th, within kissing distance of the San Juan Islands and Port Angeles and the Olympics (and Seattle), but far far from Vancouver and whole entire universes away from eastern Canada.

As for the ferries: they’re run by a bunch of sadistic bureaucrats (unionized to the point that if they kill passengers, they don’t have to take their lumps, either), they cost a bundle, they’re cumbersome & slow, and they don’t offer good service. Ferries are fun for holiday makers, but they’re a pain for regulars…

And yeah, maybe the Russians have more oil and gas (or at least as much), but we probably have more water. And that’s supposed to be the next “oil”…

melanie May 5, 2007 at 9:56 pm

Hmm. A bridge to the US would probably be difficult if the straight is deep (not a bridge builder, so I don’t really know). There is a weird little peninsula south of Vancouver that belongs to the US, but is cut off from the rest of the country by water and the Canadian border. How do they function? I can see it would be odd though, if the provincial capital had its only fixed link to the mainland via another country!How about Nanaimo? At least it would be a direct route, if longish. But there’s a good economic reason why the line stopped at Vancouver – it has a vast hinterland of exploitable resources. Nowadays an extension might be justified by Pacific trade, though it’s probably too late since Vancouver and the US west coast ports are already developed. I can’t think of any place where the commercial and/or cultural hub is an offshore island with a rather small population.

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