New bridge for cooperation, not explosives
The old bridge on the road connecting Norway with Russia was ready to be blown up in case of invasion. A new one is on the government’s priority list for more speedy cooperation.
This is how the new bridge at the mouth of the Pasvik river will look when ready three years from now. Norway gives full speed in a new road towards the Russian border in the north.
The old bridge, built in 1960, is the only narrow road across the river. Thus, in Cold War thinking it would be rather natural to get rid of it in case of a Soviet invasion. The nearest Norwegian military border guard camp is located only some few hundred meters from the bridge and a regular scenario in exercises was to run down the hill and blow up the bridge.
Today, Norway’s relation with Russia is more of a bridge-building character.
Business- and peoples' contact across the border is developing fast. Cross-border traffic had doubled over the last three years and visa-freedom for local citizens was introduced some months ago.
The new road from the border check-point towards the town of Kirkenes is highlighted in the Norwegian governments High North policy. Construction started two years ago on the east side of the river. Next year, work starts on the 3,6 kilometer new road for the west side. The new bridge will leads the road directly into a tunnel taking traffic outside the residential area.
Nine meter wide, the new road will be well prepared for increased cargo- and truck traffic between northern Norway to Russia’s Kola Peninsula.
Russia is also giving full speed on upgrading the road from the border towards Murmansk. The main road E105 gets a shortcut from the north side of Salmijärvi towards Zapolyarny. When ready in autumn 2014, drivers will save some 15 minutes compared with the route via Nikel. At Pechenga, a brand new bridge is being built including upgrade of the road west of Sputnik.