10 Jun 2022 10:48

New Russia-China bridge across Amur River opens after 2-year delay due to Covid-19

BLAGOVESHCHENSK. June 10 (Interfax) - The Amur River international vehicle bridge, which links Russia's Blagoveshchensk and China's Heihe, opened to traffic on Friday after a two-year delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an Interfax correspondent reported from the site.

The first vehicles set off along the international bridge across the Amur River. The first agreement on the construction of this bridge was signed by the Russian and Chinese governments 27 years ago, on June 26, 1995, and a protocol amending it was signed in September 2015.

"I am convinced that this bridge will become a hallmark of the cities of Blagoveshchensk and Heihe," Amur Region Governor Vasily Orlov said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Only freight vehicles will be able to use the new bridge at the initial stage. The region's First Deputy External Economic Development Minister Yekaterina Kireyeva told Interfax that the intensity of traffic at this stage will be minimal due to remaining quarantine risks.

"The Chinese side's strict requirements are restricting us for now. We treat it with understanding and respect. Besides, the construction of the permanent crossing point has not yet been completed. Nevertheless, from this day on, stable transport communication is starting between our countries on a daily basis," Kireyeva said.

"As regards the importance of this bridge, every day we speak about Russia's U-turn to the East, and this U-turn cannot be only declarative. In order for it to become a reality, it is necessary to expand the Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway, it is necessary to build a bridge over Amur and to put border crossings in order. So, it seems to me that all of this work is crucial not only to the Far East, not only to the Amur region, but to the whole of Russia," Russian Presidential Envoy to the Far East Federal District Yury Trutnev said, attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the bridge by video link.

Once the bridge reaches full capacity, it will be able to service 630 trucks, 164 buses and 68 cars per day.

Russia's Blagoveshchensk and China's Heihe, which is situated on the Amur River bank opposite the capital city of Russia's Amur region, have close economic ties. They were previously connected by river routes, available during the navigation period, a pontoon bridge and air-cushion vessels, which were used during the inter-season period, and an ice road in winter. The bridge project cost 19 billion rubles, including 14 billion rubles of investment in Russian territory.

In addition to the vehicle bridge, Russia and China are also connected by the Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang railway bridge, which was completed on April 27, 2022.