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13Jan94 SWEDEN: D-DAY FOR ORESUND CROSSING - ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY.

The future of the £1.2 billion Oresund crossing between Denmark and Sweden is hanging in the balance after the Swedish government deferred a final decision about whether to go ahead with the project until today (Thursday).The Swedes should have announced their decision last Friday. But as 200 anti-crossing protesters gathered in Stockholm, prime minister Carl Bildt announced the postponement until today because the Government did not have enough information to make a decision.If it rules in favour, Sweden's four-party coalition government could collapse. One coalition member, the Centre party, strongly objects to the scheme on environmental grounds.If the government decides to scupper the project it will provoke a fierce political row with the Danes, who have already authorised the start of site clearance and tunnelling near Copenhagen.At the very least they will demand compensation for the money the Danish authorities and its Oresund company, Oresundskonsortiet, have spent.A U turn would also fly in the face of an agreement the two governments made in 1991 to build the 16 km bridge and tunnel crossing between Copenhagen and Malmo.This week, Oresundskonsortiet was putting on a brave face. A spokesman said it was business as usual and work would continue on preparations to draw up a select list of contractors to bid for the main tunnel and bridge construction.Construction is due to start later this year with completion in 1998.- See Contracts page 13. CONSTRUCTION NEWS