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Russia builds $985 mln tunnel in St. Petersburg

The Russian government will help build a 940-meter-long automobile tunnel under the Neva river in St. Petersburg, the nation's second-largest city, to ease traffic congestion and increase river navigation. The government will provide two-thirds of the required Russian ruble 26.4 billion ($985 million) investment, the city government said yesterday on its Web site. Construction of the Orlov tunnel under the Smolnaya and Sverdlov embankments will start in the fourth quarter. The tunnel will enable bridges over the Neva to stay open one hour longer for about 3.5 hours a night during summer navigation, Portnews online service reported yesterday, citing Yuri Molchanov, a vice-governor at St. Petersburg. Longer openings will allow vessel navigation to rise 30%, news service RIA Novosti reported. Neva serves as an export outlet for fuel oil and other oil products, which are transported by barges from refineries inside the country. Tall ships can only pass St. Petersburg at nights when bridges are opened, which interrupts automobile traffic across the river. About 11 million tons of cargoes a year are transported through the Neva, according to Portnews. (Bloomberg)