At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum this weekend, Russian engineers displayed a virtual model of the proposed Crimea Bridge. When completed, the bridge will be one of the world's longest---at nearly 12 miles. The project will accommodate four lanes of traffic and two lanes of light rail; crossing the Kerch Strait and connecting the Crimean Peninsula with the Russian mainland.
The Bridge is expected to create thousands of jobs in the region, especially in Crimea where the tourism industry is projected to quadruple. Experts believe that the Bridge will be completed during 2018. Crimea is already receiving investment from developers for constructing new hotels. Unfortunately, EU and US countries cannot invest in Crimea due to economic sanctions. Nonetheless, over 170 bids have been received to date.
Not everyone is happy with this project; most notably the neo-Nazi government in the rump-state of Ukraine. Nor are the envious and frustrated Smart Boys in Corporate America, whose plans to seize Crimean oil ports and raise the Rainbow Flag over Sevastopol collapsed in 2014 when Crimea seceded and reunified with Russia. Former NYC mayor and Wall Street financier Michael Bloomberg even went so far as to compare the project to Stalin's modernization projects of the 1930s. This is, of course, coming from a man whose lone technological achievement in New York was connecting the city with a network of surveillance cameras.
Bloomberg should possibly have taken a good look at the Brooklyn Bridge and recalled that we once built things like that too. But an annual report from our own Department of Transportation in April showed that 61,000 US bridges are structurally deficient. Most of these are in the most heavily-trafficked regions and some 87% were constructed before 1970.
Bridges are generally rated for a lifespan of 50 years before needing replacement; the current median age of US bridges is 42 years. Industry experts believe that an estimated $71 billion is urgently needed simply to repair critical structures. Without any substantial bridge replacement, the number of aging bridges is going to increase exponentially. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that over $3 trillion is required to bring US bridges back to full operating capacity by 2020.
But that will likely not happen, because sums of that magnitude are needed both for maintaining a military capable of destroying other countries' bridges; and maintaining a welfare system which is supporting a large number of under/unemployed contractors, engineers, and construction workers. Nor is it likely that the costs can be lowered, because too many of the Smart Boys on Wall Street and the Legal Profession profit off cost inflation and/or frivolous lawsuits. Small wonder then, that political and financial leaders of the Bloomberg type envy Russian innovation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke at SPEIF noted this as well. "We need the US but we don't need them constantly interfering with our affairs, telling us how to live, and hindering Europe from building relations with us. Sanctions have had zero effect on Americans, but they tell their partners to endure them. Such a powerful nation could be of benefit to the world, including Russia, but the problem with the US government is its tendency to interfere with internal affairs of other countries."
It isn't only other countries, President Putin. American citizens endure the same the same constant interference from the government in our own lives. But at least, Russia is willing to stand up to them, while the American people slavishly submit to them.
And we wonder why Crimea chose reunification with Russia over American Exceptionalism? All we need do is compare this: