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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Matviyenko Plans $400M Tunnel

MTValentina Matviyenko
ST. PETERSBURG -- Two major city projects, the construction of a toll tunnel under the River Neva and a new soccer stadium have won final approval, Governor Valentina Matviyenko said.

"By mid-2006, construction work [on the tunnel] will begin. The city government has taken the decision to start the project and we will not step back," Matviyenko said last week before a soccer match in the city.

A road tunnel between Orlovskaya Ulitsa and Piskaryov Prospekt, called "our No. 1 project" by Matviyenko, will connect the Central and the Krasnogvardeisky districts.

A 24-hour traffic connection will aim to ease congestion around the center and to allow more time to open the drawbridges for navigation.

"The project includes construction of a set of two tunnels, each 1.6 kilometers long," said Oleg Kashchenko, deputy chairman of the committee on city improvement and road construction. "The total traffic capacity will be 40,000 to 60,000 vehicles a day."

The cost of the project will total about 11.2 billion rubles ($403 million), although the maintenance costs for the tunnel will exceed those for the bridges, Kashchenko said.

The cost of one crossing will be between 10 rubles and 15 rubles (35 cents and 50 cents) per vehicle.

Two tenders -- one for a company to design the tunnel and the other for the construction firm -- have now been ordered by the governor, said Natalia Syomkina, a spokeswoman for Vice Governor Oleg Virolainen.

"The finance committee has been ordered to allocate 70 million rubles [$2.5 million] for the project," she said.

Although the financing of the project remains unclear, a business plan with different investment options should be completed by June 1, Interfax reported.

The Orlovsky toll tunnel is the first of several planned for the city, Syomkina said.

Matviyenko has given orders to develop, in the shortest possible time, a program of car tunnel construction in St. Petersburg for 2006-2010. At present, six sites in the city area are under consideration, Syomkina said.

The tunnel's goal of easing traffic jams has not been accepted by everyone in the city.

"Experience from all over the world shows that new roads and highways tend to increase the traffic," said Jens Forsmark, of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.

Matviyenko also confirmed plans to replace Kirov Stadium with a new arena on Krestovky Island that meets international standards. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, whose company will be the new stadium's main sponsor, backed Matviyenko's statement.

"Gazprom and the city administration have decided to build a soccer arena for 50,000 spectators," Miller said.