Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Ever wonder what the former governor of Alaska is up to? Probably not, but I'm going to tell you how Walter Hickel passes his time anyway.

He's hanging out over in Moscow coming up with fantastic ideas. He is hoping to remove the terrible traffic congestion in western Alaska and eastern Siberia. No, really he is.

Die-hard supporters are renewing their push for the audacious plan -- a $65 billion highway project that would link two of the world's most inhospitable regions by burrowing under a stretch of water connecting the Pacific with the Arctic Ocean.

Connecting two of the world's "most inhospitable" regions strikes me as being high on the priority list for eskimos longing for a return of pangea, but probably no one else. Not only is this highway tunnel going to be three times longer than the Chunnel that connects England and France, it's going to contain a railroad connection, too.

[It] raises the prospect of some tantalizingly exotic routes -- train riders could catch the London-Moscow-Washington express, conference organizers suggested.

Because who wouldn't want to take this direct route from London to DC? I mean it's probably only going to take weeks to make that commute. And for those thinking of the vacation possibilities, I hear that Siberia is real nice in January.

Winter temperatures there routinely hit minus 94 F.

But what about the price? Answer: a cool $120 million dollars. And that's not a penny toward the actual construction. That $120 million is simply for a "feasibility study." Not to worry, though, because those pro-tunnel people are convinced that project will turn a profit in a mere 30 years. That, of course, would be if the construction goes swimmingly and doesn't have any delays. Since construction delays never happen.

A Russian member of government did talk some sense into these crazed engineers. In fact, Maxim Bystrov made up my new favorite word for this tunnel idea.

"As a ministry employee I am used to working with figures and used to working with projects that have an economic and financial base. The word 'prozhekt' has a negative meaning in Russian. I want this 'prozhekt' to turn into a 'project."'

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