The Crimean Bridge or colloquially the Kerch Strait Bridge, is a pair of parallel bridges constructed by the Russian Federation, to span the Strait of Kerch between the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai (Russia) and the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea (Russian-annexed, internationally recognised as part of Ukraine). The bridge complex provides for both vehicular traffic and for rail. With the length of 18.1 km (11.2 mi) it is the longest bridge in both Russia and Europe. Having been considered at least since 1903, planning for the bridge began in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea. In January 2015, the multibillion-dollar contract for the construction of the bridge was awarded to Arkady Rotenberg’s Stroygazmontazh. Construction of the bridge commenced in May 2015; the road bridge was opened on 16 May 2018 while the completion of the rail link is scheduled for early 2019. The bridge was christened Crimean Bridge after an online vote in December 2017, while “Kerch Strait Bridge” was the second and “Reunification Bridge” the third most popular suggestions.
The Russian government’s draft resolution of 1 September 2014 required the bridge to have 4 lanes of vehicle traffic and a double-track railway. An official video from October 2015 contained a CGI concept of the bridge design, annotated with various measurements. It showed a four-lane, flat deck highway bridge running parallel with the separate two-track railway. The main span over the Kerch Strait shipping channel has a steel arch support, 227 m (745 ft) wide with a 35 m (115 ft) clearance above the water to allow for ships to pass under. There are three segments: from the Taman Peninsula to Tuzla Spit is 7 km (4 mi); across Tuzla Island is 6.5 km (4.0 mi); and from Tuzla Island to the Crimean Peninsula is 5.5 km (3.4 mi) (19 km (12 mi) total).
Construction on the bridge began in May 2015. Approximately 200 bombs from the World War II era were found in the area during pre-construction clearance. Three temporary bridges were built, to facilitate access (independent of weather and currents) for main construction. By October 2015, the first of the temporary bridges had been constructed, connecting Tuzla Island and Taman Peninsula. The two shipping channel arches were lifted into position in August and October 2017. In October 2017, National Guard of Russia Director Viktor Zolotov announced a new “maritime brigade” is being formed as part of Russia’s Southern Military District to protect the bridge.