"This year’s extent of Arctic sea ice could be the second smallest ever, making the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route ever more navigable. But in and around the Bering Strait, the amount of ice wouldn’t matter if the plans to build an underwater tunnel between Russia and Alaska are realized. Though the idea was initially floated by Tsar Nicholas II in 1905, it was scrapped by the Soviets and then again by the economic meltdown of the 1990s following the Soviet collapse. Vladimir Putin reignited Russian interest in the project and raised the issue with former president George W. Bush in 2008. Now, the Daily Mail reports that the Duma has just approved the plans to build the 64-mile tunnel and rail link, which could cost anywhere from $60-100 billion to construct. Reports are conflicting, but the tunnel will include a high-speed rail for cargo trains and possibly a road, fiber optic cable connections, and energy links."