The massive concrete parts located on both sides of the Dnieper River remind us about the Soviet idea to build long railway traffic tunnels under the river for the City’s defence purposes. The biggest in Kyiv history traffic tunnel construction was abandoned with the outbreak of war.
In 1920, during the Polish – Soviet War, the Polish troops have been occupying Kyiv for a few weeks. Failing to gain a foothold in the City, and driven by fear of getting surrounded by the Red Army, they soon left Kyiv destroying all the City’s bridges. It was a big shock for Kyiv transportation system and it took many years to rebuild it.
In 1930-s Stalin’s officials have developed a plan to build tunnels under the Dnieper River to avoid such problems in the future. A decision was made to construct two tunnels which would be able to serve the City without any fear of possible bombings or shootings. The building had to last for 9 years, the longest tunnel was supposed to be 6.5 kilometers long. Many builders have been appointed to the construction, they had to work in the conditions of a very high risk and under extremely high pressure. The work shift lasted 40 minutes, after which it was necessary to spend 90 minutes in a special vacuum chamber. There is a version that prisoners labor was used at the construction site.
By June 1941 about 10% of planned work has been finished: a few huge concrete coffers were put underground, about 600 meters of tunnels under the river and up to 1 km of tunnels along the banks have been dug.
The Nazi attack in June-July 1941 has ruined all the further plans: the tunnels were preserved, the mechanisms disassembled, the workers sent to work for the Army. Everything else was preserved under a layer of oil in the tunnels or buried underground. After the liberation of Kiev in 1944, they attempted to resume the construction, but due to many problems and needs it was closed forever.
By the way, such a tunnel was finished in Khabarovsk in 1941, and operates till present day.