Russian billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko said on Monday he was ready to build a railway tunnel under the Kerch Strait for $1.12 billion to connect Crimea and mainland Russia.
Timchenko said in an interview with ITAR-TASS that the project would be 13 cheaper than the construction of the undersea Eurotunnel connecting England and France and three times cheaper than the Marmaray tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait.
Timchenko said his project had obvious advantages over the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait, which would be over six times more expensive than a tunnel.
“Experts are favoring a project to build a bridge in the area of Tuzla,” Timchenko said. “This is correct strategically but the cost of the project would be up to $7 billion. Also, an order has been issued to open traffic across the bridge by December 31, 2017, which is quite a tight schedule,” the Russian businessman told ITAR-TASS.
“The rationale of this option is obvious, considering that a port has been built nearby and a project is under consideration to build approach roads. There is also the so-called Zhukovsky option envisaging the construction of a tunnel. This would cost about $1.12 billion. Do you see the difference?” the Russian billionaire said.
Whatever decision will be made on a transport pass to link Crimea directly with the southern Russian Krasnodar Territory, Timchenko is ready to take part in the construction project “if he is entrusted and assigned the task,” the Russian businessman said.
Experts gathered by the Russian state road construction company Avtodor had examined over 70 options by early June for a transport link between Crimea and mainland Russia, including various combinations of bridges and undersea tunnels.
The experts recognized as inefficient all the options for building tunnels due to the high cost of their construction and operation, enhanced tunnel safety requirements and the complexity of construction works under the Kerch Strait.
Russian Vice-Premier Dmitry Kozak said after a government meeting on July 31 that the government had chosen the “Tuzla option” of building a bridge link. The project worth $6.9 billion is expected to be financed solely by the state.