Road Agency Orders Bridge Built Before APEC Summit

VLADIVOSTOK -- A Federal Road Agency official said Friday that a three-kilometer bridge intended to demonstrate the country's economic revival to a 2012 summit must be built at all costs, warning far eastern officials that no delay would be tolerated.

In his final live-television broadcast as president, Vladimir Putin in October promised to build the bridge joining the Pacific port of Vladivostok to Russky Island, the isolated and impoverish locale where most events of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit will be held.

Primorye Governor Sergei Darkin and Vladivostok Mayor Igor Pushkaryov were on hand Friday to oversee the beginning of construction of a different bridge, Interfax reported. Construction of the bridge to Russky Island will start in the next few days, the report said.

"In a few days -- just as soon as we get the necessary documents -- we'll begin building the bridge across the Bosfor Vostochny channel," Darkin said, adding that "only Russian companies" would be involved in the work.

This month, the director of a bridge-building company in Vladivostok said it might not be possible to complete the $640 million structure in time for the summit. A contractor for the bridge has not yet been chosen.

On Friday, however, Sergei Poleshchuk, deputy director of the Federal Road Agency, told officials in the Primorye region that the project could not be delayed.

"The project must be built by the APEC summit, whatever it takes," Poleshchuk said.

The country plans to spend more than $8 billion on APEC summit organization and preparation in infrastructure projects, treating the meeting as a rehearsal for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. APEC groups 21 nations in Asia and the Pacific region.

Reuters, MT