A new 19km bridge connecting the mainland with the Crimean Peninsula has been officially opened, making Russia the host of Europe’s longest bridge. President Putin personally drove a truck (KAMAZ) across it to mark the occasion.
The opening of new bridge was all about the people, who created the massive construction in record time. A column of dozens of heavy-duty vehicles including hauler trucks and construction cranes, occasionally tooting their horns. Vladimir Putin, who showed up for the ceremonial trip unusually dressed in casual style, drove one of the two KAMAZ trucks in the front of the motorcade.
The column arrived to the Crimean side of the bridge, where Putin spoke a few ‘thank you’ words to the thousands of people who contributed to the project – from underwater explosives specialists, who helped sweep the seabed for bombs left from World War II, and archeologists to the many construction workers who made the bridge possible.
In October 2017, National Guard of Russia Director Viktor Zolotov announced a new “maritime brigade” is being formed as part of Russia’s Southern Military District to protect the bridge.
The Crimean bridge project was Russia’s response to the situation – a permanent overland link between the Crimean peninsula and the rest of Russia.
The work on the project started in 2015 in parallel with creating necessary infrastructure on both sides of the Kerch Strait.
In 2016, the actual work on the crimean bridge started in earnest, with workers building temporary constructions and driving pillars into the seabed. Year 2017 was marked by arguably the trickiest part of the construction – towing, rising and putting in place two arches under which ships can pass.
The Kerch Strait Bridge, or the Crimea Bridge, or the Crimean Bridge, is a pair of parallel bridges (one for vehicular traffic, one for rail) constructed by the Russian Federation, to span the Strait of Kerch between the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai; with the estimate distance of 19 km (12 miles) it is the longest bridge in Europe.
The current connection (before the bridge was opened) is by the Kerch Strait ferry between Port Kavkaz on the Chushka Spit and Port Krym.
Previously the title of Europe’s longest bridge was held by the Vasco da Gama Bridge in Portugal, which has a total length of over 12km. Trailing shortly behind it is the Leziria Bridge located in the same country. European bridges however pale before their Asian counterparts. The world’s longest bridge is a 164.8km monster connecting China’s cities of Danyang and Kunshan, which opened in 2010.