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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bridge Strains to Meet Mayor's Deadline

Workers and army conscripts were rushing around like ants Thursday polishing, washing and painting the new glassed-in pedestrian bridge across the Moscow River so it will be ready for its grand opening by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Friday evening.

The 500-meter bridge, linking Frunzenskya Naberezhnaya and Neskuchny Sad, is another of the mayor's pet projects, and he promised months ago that it would be ready in time for the City Day celebrations.

"One day is left until the opening of the bridge," warned a sign in the construction management office Thursday. And they would make it, said Nikolai Butov, the head of the construction works at the bridge.

"There is still night we can use," Butov said as he inspected the work.

He promised the bridge will be all shiny and sparkling by the time Luzhkov arrives Friday. "We are opening in the evening because it is going to have a marvelous lighting system," Butov said.

The new bridge is built on the structure of the Andreyevsky Bridge, an early 20th century railway bridge, which was shipped a kilometer down the river in May. The new improved structure, covered with glass and fitted with escalators, was built in record time, with workers working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We just had to do it," Butov said. "We had a deadline to finish it by City Day, and we did it."

After the bridge opens, more work still has to be done. Granite on the bridge base has to be polished. A granite staircase has to be delivered from Ukraine and installed; in its place, temporary wooden stairs have been built for the opening. Workers were urgently painting the temporary structure Thursday for Luzhkov's visit.

Butov said the ultra-fast construction was funded from the city budget, but he said he could not give a sum of the costs.

The opening of the bridge will launch Moscow's 857th birthday party, which will run through the weekend. The schedule is packed with events, including many outdoor concerts.

The celebrations start on Tverskaya Ploshchad at 11 a.m. Saturday. The opening ceremony, however, is likely to have limited access. The performances will continue until late in the evening.

Folk artists will perform throughout the day on Vasilyevsky Spusk, located between St. Basil's and the Moscow River, where at 8 p.m. a pop-music concert will start. At 9 p.m., there will be a concert of sacred choral music near Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Sunday will offer more performers on Tverskaya Ploshchad, and another set of folk and pop concerts at Vasilyevsky Spusk. There will also be a series of events organized as part of an alternative, unofficial celebration.

Traffic disruptions and heightened security should be expected, especially after the bombing of the Manezh shopping center Tuesday. The mall was another one of Luzhkov's achievements, and he plans to greet the 50 millionth visitor Sunday.

The visitor, apparently to be picked randomly, is going to receive gifts, an employee of the shopping mall said Thursday. He refused to give his name.