While there is evidence that building a bridge or tunnel might be possible to connect these two locations, one does not exist as of November 2022. There also is no ferry connecting these two locations. A ferry could potentially cross from Alaska to Russia in about two hours if one existed. To date, there have been too many political, financial, logistical, and engineering roadblocks preventing any of these from becoming a reality.
Bridges, tunnels, and ferries generally connect places that want to be connected, with end-points that then connect up to other areas. The western Alaskan and eastern Russian coasts are extremely underdeveloped and are disconnected from the outside world. These sparse places are tiny indigenous outpost villages so far from the rest of civilization that there are no roads coming in or out of them.
BRIDGES AND TUNNELS
A proposal for a bridge-and-tunnel link from Russia to Alaska was made by French engineer Baron Loicq de Lobel in 1906. Czar Nicholas II of Russia issued an order authorizing work on the Trans-Siberian Alaska railroad tunnel project, but no physical work ever began.
Russia approved a $65-billion TKM-World Link tunnel project in August 2011. If completed, the 64-mile project would be the world’s longest tunnel. As of October 2021, no progress has been publicly reported.
China is also considering the construction of a “China-Russia-Canada-America” railroad that would include the construction of a 120-mile underwater tunnel that crosses the Bering Strait.
There is a 51-mile strait between the east coast of Russia and the west coast of Alaska called the Bering Strait. A common misconception about the Bering Strait is that it freezes in the winter and can easily be crossed by walking across the ice. This is not the case. There is a strong current flowing through the Strait which creates large channels of open water. Sometimes these open channels of water do become clogged with moving chunks of ice, so it’s theoretically possible you could cross the Strait by jumping from ice chunk to ice chunk and swimming across the other open areas, but the odds will not be in your favor.
Saying all of that, there are two reported cases of successful Bering Strait ice crossings.
The first was in 1998 when Russian Dmitry Shparo and his son, Matveypted, journeyed from Russia to Alaska on skis. The journey took nearly three weeks. They were both near death when they finally reached Cape Thompson, Alaska.
More recently in 2006, Karl Bushby and Dimitri Kieffer succeeded in doing the reverse route, but this time by walking. The two were immediately arrested for entering Russia illegally and deported.
There have been numerous other ice-crossing attempts that have ended with helicopter rescues.
- The Bering Strait is named after Danish explorer, Vitus Bering.
- Russia and Alaska are less than 3 miles apart at their closest point in the Bering Strait where Russia’s Big Diomede Island and Alaska’s Little Diomede Island are located.
- Russia governed Alaska as a colony for nearly as long as the United States has now governed Alaska as a territory and now a state.
- During the Cold War, Alaskans referred to the closed border with Russia as the “Ice Curtain.” Their goal was to melt the Ice Curtain.
- Wikipedia.org – Bering Strait
- AngusAdventures.com – Crossing the Bering Strait & Beringian Gap
- USAToday.com – Life in westernmost Alaska village is newfangled, old-fashioned