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GORNO-ALTAISK, November 16 (Itar-Tass) —A final decision on the costruction of a railway bridge over the River Lena towards Yakutsk must be expected before the end of this year, whereas bridge building proper may begin in 2012, Russian Minister of Transport Igor Levitin has announced.
In Yakutsk on Tuesday, the Minister took part in a ceremony marking the laying of a "golden section" of the 800-km railway Barkakit-Tommot - Yakutsk (Nizhny Bestyakh), attended a ceremonial meeting on this occasion, and chaired an enlarged conference on the development of the transport sector of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).
Somewhat earlier, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who also attended the ceremony marking the completion of the construction of the railway section, pointed out that "the railway must be connected with Yakutsk without fail and it is necessary to throw a bridge over the Lena". "You may rest assured that we shall make the linkup for certain,"he promised.
Vladimir Yakunin, president of the Russian Railways Company (RZD), who was also a guest of honour at the ceremony, expressed his opinion about the construction of a bridge over the Lena. He admitted that it is hard for him to visualize the building of a tunnel in such complex climatic conditions and that, therefore, he believes that a bridge is the most rational solution. However, in any case, a State expert examiner has the final say, Yakunin pointed out.
The construction of the railway Berkakit-Tommot - Yakutsk is nearing completion. The railway, the construction of which has cost 35,000 million roubles, has reached Nizhny Bestyakh Township, located on the other bank of the Lena River. It only remains to decide one of the main questions: what will link the railway with Yakutsk, a bridge or a tunnel.
The authorities of Yakutia suggest a costly combined railway-and-automobile bridge. There is an option cheaper than that but not the best one, in the opinion of Yakutia authorities - to build a tunnel beneath the riverbed. A final decision will be made by the Federal center.
The ceremonial meeting on the occasion of the laying of the "golden section" was held in Yakutsk on Tuesday night. Railway builders, guests from Moscow, members of the republic's general public, and all the three presidents of Yakutia -- Mikhail Nikolayev, Vyacheslav Shtyrov, and Yegor Borisov -- who had taken an active part in railway building work -- participated in the meeting.
Borisov presented State awards to railway builders who distinguished themselves most of all. The top distinction -- the Polar Star order -- was presented to Alexander Dudnikov, general director of the Transstroj-Vostok corporation. RF Transport Minister Igor Levitin was presented with a Civil Valour badge of distinction for his contribution to the making of Yakutia's railway industry.