Artist's conception of the highway bridge across the Heilong River on China-Russia border. Provided To China Daily
The first highway bridge connecting China and Russia over the Heilong River is expected to trigger a development boom in the cross-border economic corridor - with positive effects for Mongolia, as well - as the flow of cargo and people increases.
A joint venture company will start construction of the bridge on Saturday, 28 years after it was first proposed. The model may prove instructive for the construction of other cross-border infrastructure, officials said at a news conference on Thursday.
The19.9-kilometer bridge about one-third of which is in China - stretches from Heihe, a border town in Heilongjiang province, to the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk.
At an estimated cost of 2.47 billion yuan (5.6 million), the bridge will open to traffic in October 2019, according to Pan Yang, a Heilongjiang traffic department official.
Pan said his department organized 33 rounds of talks with the Blagoveshchensk side after 2013. An agreement for construction of the bridge was signed in September last year.
Russian employees of the joint venture company have begun their work in China, and their Chinese colleagues will also start their work in Russia, said Tian Lin, head of the Heilongjiang highway construction bureau.
The joint venture company will operate for a concession period of 20 years, and toll fees collected will be used to pay back the construction loan.
By 2020, the bridge is expected to be transporting more than 3 million metric tons of cargo and 1.48 million passengers annually, officials said at the news conference.