Ever wish you could pack up the kids in the station wagon and drive on over to London to see Big Ben? That may actually be a possibility if a Russian Railways superhighway ever gets built. But right now, critics are calling the grand, trillion-dollar plan a pipe dream.
The brains behind this massive superhighway – which would have to cross the Bering Sea – is the president of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has few details about the project, no proposal for how the superhighway would be paid for, and no clue how to get over the sea, CNN reported.
But the possibility that a road could link the U.S. to Russia is still fascinating. The superhighway would connect Chukotka in Russia’s eastern reaches with Alaska’s Seward Peninsula, joining existing roads and running through London, Paris, and Berlin on the way, CBC added.
The slog through Russia alone is incredibly long – about 6,200 miles. If it ever gets built, road trippers could one day log 12,910 miles to take the entire journey from London to New York.
If you’re a bit skeptical that Russian Railways superhighway plans will ever be possible, consider the 5,500-mile long Trans-Siberian railway and Joseph Stalin’s Belomor Canal, stretches from the White Sea to the Baltic Sea. Russia has undertaken such projects before.
“It is certainly in the grand tradition of Soviet public projects and Russian imperial public projects,” University of Toronto political science professor Seva Gunitsky told CBC.
There remains, however, the pesky matter of getting over the Bering Strait; at its narrowest, the straight stretches 55 miles, and it will be no small feat to cross it.
It will also be no small feat to pay for this fantasy road trip, although its economic benefits could be plentiful. The nitty-gritty details about the superhighway include a mega road, high-speed rail network, new pipelines for oil and gas, electrical facilities, and water; it would be built along the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Siberian Times reported.
Developers think the superhighway will catapult Russia into a center for high-tech industries. For people in Russia’s Far East and Siberia, the superhighway would connect them to the rest of the world, spurring development and keeping the region’s young people at home, the Times continued.
This is probably why the superhighway has been proposed before. Russia, Alaska, and Northern Canada could benefit from its construction though critics are skeptical of such claims.
Then there’s the problem of connecting the superhighway to Nome, Alaska. No road system even connects Nome to the rest of the state, which means Russian Railways superhighway may just have to remain a fantasy a little while longer.
[Photo of Chukotka courtesy Wikimedia Commons]