KIRKENES/PECHENGSKY DISTRICT (Murmansk Region) – An unveiling ceremony for a 25 kilometer section of an updated highway connecting Russia and Norway took place on the border between the two countries – in the Pechengsky District of Murmansk Region and the municipality of Sor-Varanger, Norway. The highway provides a much shorter route from Murmansk to Kirkenes.Finland and Russia’s major port in the north, Murmansk, as well as the Republic of Karelia and St. Petersburg. In Russia, the highway provides access to the Barents Sea, which remains ice-free all year round.
Norway built a bridge and a tunnel for the highway on its side, which have cut travel times from the border station to Kirkenes, as the road bypasses the settlement of Hesseng. The E-105 highway is an important trans-border route in the Barents Sea area. Over the three year project, Norway built a 690-meter tunnel and a bridge which is about 250 meters long.
According to Norway’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, his country invested about 800 million NOK (100 mln USD) on the construction of the Norwegian section of the highway.
Since the tunnel was built near the cave of St. Tryphon, a saint who preached in the north over 500 years ago, the tunnel was named after him. Priests from Russia and Norway blessed the new bridge during the opening ceremony.
The Murmansk Region renovated a 16 kilometer section of the road near the border with Norway, having invested 3.5 billion RUB (60 mln USD) allocated by the federal government. The press service of the Kola Road Management Department has reported that a project to renovate the next 27.6-kilometer section of the highway to Murmansk is in its final stage.
“We’ve demonstrated again to the whole world that while in some places they build fences and dig ditches along borders, we, along with our Norwegian friends, are building bridges, roads and tunnels to make contact between our people on both sides of the border easier,” said First Deputy Governor of the Murmansk Region Alexei Tyukavin, speaking to journalists.