Snow will soon cover the roads, but meanwhile the asphalt work goes on several places on E105 between Russia’s border to Norway and Murmansk. Crews are laying down new asphalt between Nikel and Zapolyarny and near the military settlements in Pechenga. The road once infamous for its bumpy ride is soon becoming a comfortable drive linking two countries with more and more cross-border contact.
Better road gives more traffic. August and September this year were the two busiest months ever if counting number of border crossers. In September alone, 21.914 border crossings took place at Storskog, Borisoglebsk border station, up near 6.000 from the same month last year. The statistics are posted at the portal of the Norwegian police in charge of immigration.
New shortcut saves 15 minutes Teams of road constructers are working on both sides of the border, upgrading European highway E105. In Russia, the most substantial upgrade comes between the old border check point and the town of Zapolyarny. When the new road is ready in 2014, drivers from Murmansk to Kirkenes will no longer have to take the roundabout way via Nikel. With the shortcut, the route will save some 15 minutes.
Near the settlement of Pechenga, another shortcut with a new bridge over the river will be ready by next spring. The reconstruction work on road between Pechenga and the military settlement of Sputnik is now finished. The curves are gone and asphalt was laid down last month.
First tunnel on the route On the Norwegian side, E105 is one of very few road projects in Finnmark County with designated funding over the state budget next year. The construction work from the border check-point towards the Elvenes settlement is in progress and is expected to be ready by autumn 2013.
Next stage is from Elvenes to the cross where E105 meets E6 at Hesseng. This work starts next year with a new bridge over the Pasvik River and a new tunnel under Elvenes aiming to direct the increasing traffic out of residential area.
Russia plans to resume testing of the submarine-launched ballistic missile Bulava this summer. The country’s two newest strategic nuclear-powered submarines will start trials as soon as the ice conditions in the White Sea will allow.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
More than 900 reindeer die of hunger on the Russian Arctic island of Kolguyev following a critical lack of available local pasturelands. The reindeer stocks in the area are too badly managed, regional authorities admit.
The current situation in Ukraine makes cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries even more important, Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen says. At the same time, Norway has joined NATO’s condemnation of Russia’s military escalation on the Crimea peninsula.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.