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Mikhailovsky designed (with Nikolai Belelyubsky) the Alexander Railway Bridge across the Volga River near Syzran, the first bridge across the lower Volga and at the time (1880) the longest bridge in Europe.
Mikhailovsky also designed the Novomariinsky Canal and other canals of the Mariinsky Water System connecting the Volga with the Baltic Sea (1882–1886). He was chief of construction for the Samara–Ufa railway (1885), the Ufa–Chrysostom railway (1888), the Chrysostom–Chelyabinsk railway (1891), the Yekaterinburg–Chelyabinsk railway (1894), and many other projects.
Mikhailovsky was born into a noble family. His father was the Chernihiv nobleman Yakov Artemovich Mikhailovsky. He graduated from the First Cadet Corps, participated in the Crimean War, and was promoted second lieutenant in 1858.
For many years, Mikhailovsky worked on creating the modern infrastructure of Russian Empire needed for commerce such as the export of wheat to Europe (as in the case of the Mariinsky Water System) or the transportation of cargo and passengers to and from the western regions of Russia across Siberia to the Far East (as in the case of the Trans-Siberian Railway).
Mikhailovsky was an Actual Privy Councillor, a high civilian rank equivalent to full general or admiral.
During his long service Mikhailovsky was awarded the following honors:
- Order of Saint Stanislaus, third class, second class (for the construction of canals in the Mariinsky Water System), and first class
- Order of Saint Anne, third class, second class, and first class
- Order of Saint Vladimir fourth class (awarded for the construction of the Alexander Railway Bridge) and second class
- Order of the White Eagle
- Bukhara Gold Star with diamonds
- Japanese Order of the Rising Sun, third class
Mikhailovsky was looked on with the highest Imperial benevolence for the construction of the Imperial road from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoe Selo. For his contributions to railway development, Mikhailovsky was made an honorary citizen of Chelyabinsk and of Halych. In 1905 Mikhailovsky was appointed a member of the Council of Ministers of Transport and Communications. On February 24, 1907, his admirer the Emperor Nicholas II awarded him the rank of Actual Privy Councillor.