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KRASNODAR, May 17. /TASS/. Russia has started work in the Kerch Strait to build the offshore sections of its bridge to Crimea, the Crimean Bridge information center told TASS on Tuesday.
"The construction of the bridge across the Kerch Strait has started at sea-based sections. Before that, the construction of the bridge’s overland stretches was under way. At the western extremity of Tuzla Island, builders are driving piles under the supports that will raise the automotive segment of the structure above the water," the information center said.
The builders are carrying out the works from the technological site, which accommodates a 300-ton crane, vibratory pile drivers, a hydraulic hammer and the utility guide frame.
Builders are now erecting supports between an islet and Tuzla Island for automobile and railway bridges with the foundation of eight piles. The piles are being assembled at depths of over 4 meters. As many as 16 supports are ready: seven for the automobile and nine for the railway roads.
Over 800 piles of various types have been submerged.
The Kerch Bridge from mainland Russia to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea will open on December 18, 2018. The first support of the bridge to Crimea was installed on April 12.
The government contract for designing and building the bridge across the Kerch Strait was signed on February 17, 2015 between the Taman Federal Motorway Department of Russia’s Federal Road Agency and Stroygazmontazh LLC.
Motor vehicle traffic across the bridge will open in December 2018 while the bridge’s railway segment will start its operation in 2019.
The Crimean authorities held a referendum on March 16, 2014 on local residents’ attitude to Crimea’s reunification with Russia. With a record turnout of over 80%, 96.7% of Crimean residents and 95.6% of electors living in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol voted for the Black Sea peninsula’s reintegration into Russia.
The treaty on integrating the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol into Russia was approved by both houses of the Russian parliament, after which President Vladimir Putin signed a federal law on incorporating two new constituent entities into the Russian Federation.
Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, despite the referendum’s convincing results.
Crimea used to be part of Russia from 1784 until 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev handed it over to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in a voluntaristic act. Crimea remained part of independent Ukraine after the USSR collapsed in 1991.