Bridge to Sakhalin: Should We Raise the Payback Question?

The Crimean bridge has been completed, the peninsula is connected by road and rail with the mainland of Russia. Now the air was clearly curled with another mega-project. President Putin again raised the issue of building the Sakhalin Bridge, which would connect the island to the continent. But how timely and relevant is this infrastructure project now?

A few days ago, the head of state at a meeting with parliamentarians said:

The bridge to Sakhalin is, of course, very important for us. This issue has not been removed from the agenda, we are studying it, it is, of course, an expensive story.

Darling - that's putting it mildly. Let's try to assess all the obvious pros and cons of the promising Sakhalin Bridge. Critics of the project quite rightly point to a number of serious problems.

Against the bridge

At first, this is its extremely high price. Two years ago when we first requested to this topic, its cost was estimated at 540 billion rubles. At the same time, such infrastructure projects in our country have an unpleasant tendency to significantly rise in price as they are implemented. It should be borne in mind that since then the federal budget has been seriously overstretched due to the fall in hydrocarbon prices, and so far there are no good prospects for the growth of world quotations.

Secondly, in a market economics a natural question arises about the payback of the project. According to preliminary estimates, the bridge can return investments only if Sakhalin is connected with the Japanese islands into a single transport network. And this is an additional huge investment from the Land of the Rising Sun, which itself is experiencing serious economic difficulties. And for Tokyo, export by sea may ultimately turn out to be more profitable than some kind of overland transit through Russia.

Over the bridge

But there are other views on this problem. Proponents of the project rightly point out that the bridge will improve the transport connectivity of the isolated large island with the mainland of the country. In addition, the large-scale construction of the infrastructure adjacent to the bridge will stimulate the development of the Far East. A real transport corridor will emerge from the Irkutsk Region to Sakhalin through the north of the Khabarovsk Territory, tying the BAM into a single network, which will increase the speed of movement of goods. Industrial enterprises will receive guaranteed orders, new jobs and opportunities for starting a business in an openly depressed region will appear.

Depending on how and by whom it will be implemented, this mega-project can become either a financial black hole or a way to maintain and develop the Russian economy during a difficult period of its recession.


But there is one more interesting option, which we told earlier. It might be more expedient to build a dam with a sluice system instead of a bridge. This can be implemented much easier and faster, and the dam is more reliable and safer than a bridge crossing in case of emergency. On it you can organize beaches, not far from it, fill islands for elite buildings, organize yacht clubs and so on. The most interesting thing is that the appearance of a dam in the Tatar Strait can have a positive economic and environmental effect: the cold current will be redirected to the Pacific Ocean from the north and the average temperature on the Far Eastern coast of Russia will rise. The ports will become ice-free, and the conditions for farming will improve.

Of course, all these calculations need to be calculated by specialists, but at this stage, the construction of the Sakhalin dam seems to be a somewhat more promising project than a bridge.
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  1. steelmaker Offline steelmaker
    steelmaker 11 October 2020 11: 18
    If you build for people, then of course you need it. And if for Japan, then no!
    1. Vladimir Tuzakov (Vladimir Tuzakov) 11 October 2020 12: 27
      Sakhalin is not very crowded and it is enough to increase the number of powerful ferries, which will also serve ALL coastal settlements of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, up to Magadan, while there is no need to spend thousands of kilometers of unloaded roads through desert territories, which will cost no less. The option with a dam, blocking the Sakhalin Strait, and thus changing the sea currents and the climate of Primorye (Korea and Japan fit in with climate change, which means they can become participants in the project) is a more worthwhile idea. but deep study of the consequences is needed ... Conclusion: Investing up to a trillion for a bridge (construction in fact always rises in price up to a double initial estimate) and even so much on underloaded roads is an ill-considered waste of a lot of money when more needed bridges and transport routes are needed more populated areas of Siberia and the Far East (Yakutsk, with railway access to the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, etc.) ...
  2. amateur Offline amateur
    amateur (Victor) 11 October 2020 13: 50
    The length of the tunnel itself from Cape Pogibi on Sakhalin to Cape Lazarev on the mainland was supposed to be about 10 km (the narrowest section of the strait was chosen), its route passed north of the ferry crossing.

    (project of the 50s).
    For the information of the Russian Railways management:

    Kamchik tunnel is a railway tunnel in the Kamchik mountain pass. Tunnel length: 19200 m. Construction commenced: November 2013, Breaking down of the southern and northern tunnels: February 27, 2016, Inauguration: June 22, 2016, Commencement of operation: July 11, 2016

    That is, in 3 years, in the conditions of a 9-point seismic zone, in the presence of the strongest radioactivity of rocks, the Chinese company China Railway Tunnel Group built a tunnel in Uzbekistan twice as long.

    Tunnel construction cost estimated at $ 455 million (wiki)

    So maybe it is worth attracting the Chinese, saving both time and money?
  3. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 11 October 2020 15: 01
    This is a gold mine!
    How much dough can be optimized, what kind of PR campaign to carry out, how to glorify the Lake cooperative!
  4. Jacques sekavar Offline Jacques sekavar
    Jacques sekavar (Jacques Sekavar) 11 October 2020 15: 53
    As Lomonosov said, Russia will grow in wealth with Siberia. Wealth is immeasurable, but you cannot take - the elbow is close, and you will not bite. Roads are needed.

    The priority for the government is the Northern Sea Route where there is an icebreaker fleet, innumerable deposits of various natural resources, but there are no ports with the necessary infrastructure, and there will be no infrastructure without roads and railways. Therefore, you have to be like a dog in the hay and spend money on protection from foreign claims.

    1. The bridge crossing N. Bestyakh-Yakutsk was approved by the President and the work is in full swing.

    2. The President may have heard about the Kolyma-Omsukchan-Omolon-Anadyr road, but he did not speak, and therefore the construction proceeds through the stump-log. When it is built, it will immediately need to start repairing it. Funding is scanty, although the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug alone ships 20 tons of gold annually to the Central Bank's bins.

    3. The third will be a bridge or tunnel crossing through the Tatar Strait, and not for economic reasons (by tankers by sea to anywhere in the world) but for political reasons - Japan is discussing three islands, but is building plans for the Kuril ridge and the whole of Sakhalin.

    It would be worth adding to this the Khatanga region, the potential of which is many times greater than Norilsk, but a sponsor is also needed on the scale of the US Federal Reserve System or the People's Bank of China.

    Everything is possible, there will be businessmen in the government and will hand it over to the Chinese or someone else in a concession for 99 years and sponsors will be found right there, and during this time a lot of things in the world will change.
  5. Sapsan136 Offline Sapsan136
    Sapsan136 (Alexander) 11 October 2020 21: 19
    A bridge to Sakhalin is needed. Back in the days of the USSR, they thought to build a tunnel to Sakhalin. Perhaps it makes sense to complete a tunnel, and not build a bridge, but build a bridge across the Lena, where it is really needed
  6. Hodor Offline Hodor
    Hodor 12 October 2020 10: 56
    More broadly, this is a waste of money. Because there is also Chukotka, Kamchatka and the Kuriles. The problem of communication with which the bridge does not solve in any way. And all sorts of different ships or aircraft for 540 billion can be built a bunch.
  7. Dust Offline Dust
    Dust (Sergei) 15 October 2020 22: 04
    While Russia is in conflict with Japan, the construction of the bridge is not advisable. ... Build a bridge, and the Japanese will link the delivery of their goods to the Kuril Islands. And the Russian business having money from the Japanese transit will lobby for the surrender of the Kuril Islands .... Do we need this?
  8. Gennady N.B Offline Gennady N.B
    Gennady N.B (Gennady Belousov) 16 October 2020 08: 06
    Sooner or later, you will have to connect the island, and the sooner the better. Here and the full development of Sakhalin and the Far East region, the improvement of transport logistics and the development of the economy and jobs. Naturally, the dam is better, if only because it is more reliable, and if we add the construction of tidal power plants to it, then, in principle, the possible environmental problems will not be so significant.
  9. ali58 Offline ali58
    ali58 (Airat Aliev) 3 December 2020 23: 10
    The bridge is definitely needed, it will connect the island with the mainland! The road to Sakhalin is the way of life in the Far East! This is the artery of life of the Great country!