Those are the words of HR Director Bjørg-Anita Joki of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA). She is very excited to see the Bøkfjord bridge in Sør-Varanger and upgrading of the E105 road to Russia being nearly complete.
Last weekend, parts of the bridge were lifted into place. That was a milestone of a most particular and long-lasting traffic cooperation between Russia and Norway.
- There is no other High North project as concrete as this, and founded on such a long record of cooperation. This is the result of something we started back in the 1990s, Joki says. For a long time, she was Departmental Manager of the NPRA in Finnmark County, Norway.
Close and continuous
The cooperation was regionalized in 2003, with emphasis on road safety across Norway and Russia.
- This cooperation received nationwide emphasis both in Russia and in Norway. It was important for us that the Russians were acquainted with Norwegian road culture. We discussed professional issues and learned a lot from each other. There proved to be significant differences, Joki says.
She says that while Norway had a good overview over accidents and road design, the Russians were focused on starting traffic safety training as early as in kindergarten.
- Then the bridge project came up. We discussed road-related issues, had a Norwegian-Russian working group and agreed that Russia would take the responsibility from Murmansk to the border while we would take responsibility on our side. We started out on a small scale, Joki tells.
Gateway to Norway
The Bøkfjord Bridge, the new landmark of Sør-Varanger, was developed by the 86-year old civil engineer Per Tveit.
- Tveit was in charge of the world’s longest network arc bridge in the Russian city Novosibirsk, and I traveled to see that bridge in 2015. The funny thing is that Putin opened that bridge, and back then he referred to it as a unique and brilliant construction, Joki says with a smile.
Today, a 300 meter long construction of the same kind as the 2,000 meters long bridge in Siberia will be the gateway to Norway from Russia – developed by a young, Norwegian student back in the 1950s.
- This is the only gateway to Norway from Russia, and it is a magnificent construction. There is definitely reason to be proud, Joki says.
See the video from when the gigantic steel arc was lifted into place with the aid of tidal water and large wheels. (SPTM).
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