May 22, 2013
The Russians Are Coming (or Not)
Posted on Aug 29, 2011
Editor’s note: This entry corrects a previous version that was misleading and based on false reports.
Back in 2007, a Russian official announced a scheme to build an underwater rail system linking Siberia to Alaska. Such a railway would require the longest tunnel ever built and expenditures of about $94 billion (by one estimate). More than four years later, the transcontinental railway was in the news again.
A Russian conference on the “Comprehensive Infrastructure Development of Russia’s Northeast” somehow touched off another round of excitement over the idea.
Rail construction on the Russian side is expected to reach Yakutsk in a few months and then move on to Magadan, according to Russia Today, “whether or not the shores of the two continents will be connected.” And since this is already a correction, let’s just acknowledge that Russia Today is not the world’s tightest source.
This week the story made its way around the Internet, from The Independent to Gizmodo, as if it were brand new. It’s not. We, too, got duped, as you may have seen by the original post here and a string of confusing real-time updates.
What’s driving the coverage on the Internet and elsewhere is the fact that the idea is so exciting. At a time when we’ve come to expect less and less and our national ambition has been reduced to holding on to jobs, it speaks to the innocence and wonder left in us. The notion that two countries that were locked in conflict for the better part of a century could come together and dig a hole so long it would cross an ocean to connect continents—well, we used to be capable of that sort of thing. —PZS
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