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Vladivostok Bridge Launch Delayed

The bridge linking up to sparsely populated Russky Island is one of the largest in the world and cost $1.1 billion. Tania Teschke

The launch of automobile traffic across a bridge linking Russky Island with mainland Vladivostok has been postponed indefinitely, RIA-Novosti reported Tuesday, citing a spokesman for the Primorsky region's government.

The bridge, which was built for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on the island, has been a subject of controversy because of its high costs and disputed benefits. The summit is scheduled for September 1-8.

The spokesman attributed the delay to a document examination by the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Atomic Inspection. The examination will continue until August 7, said a spokesman for DSD Vladivostok, a contractor for the project.

The regional government spokesman said the launch timeline would be specified later.

An official opening ceremony for the bridge was held on July 2 and presided over by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev but the launch of traffic was initially scheduled for Wednesday. Currently, the bridge is being tested.

The opposition has dubbed the colossal project a "bridge to nowhere" because Russky Island has a population of a mere 5,000 people. Generous spending on APEC preparation has been contrasted with a presumed lack of investments in infrastructure elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the costs of the 3-kilometer Russky Island bridge and the 2-kilometer bridge crossing Zolotoi Rog Bay in Vladivostok, which was also built for the APEC summit, are estimated at $1.1 billion and $560 billion, respectively — much more than expenses on similar projects in neighboring China.

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