The Road I am On…
The Road I am On…
August 2011 was marked by several important events reflecting the advance of major transport infrastructure projects in Northwestern Russia.
On August 12, the orbital motorway encircling St. Petersburg was opened for end to end traffic. The inauguration of the tunnel occupying the south sector of the dam protecting St. Petersburg from storm surges was visited by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the city’s governor Valentina Matvienko. Actually, it completed the St. Petersburg Flood Prevention Facility Complex and the orbital motorway construction which had started as early as 1979. The total length of the ring road is 116 km or 142 km when taking into consideration the segment passing along the defense dam.
Several days earlier, on August 9, tender results were announced for building and operation of the Western High Speed Diameter central section (its most complex and expensive part) through a public-private partnership. Magistral Severnoi Stolitsy was announced the concessionaire. An international consortium unites several financial companies including VTB Group, Russian Gazprombank, GPB Infrastructure from Cyprus and a building consortium of Italian Astaldi, Turkish Mega Yapi and IC. The central section of the Western High Speed Diameter, which is about 12 km, includes a cable-braced bridge across the Gulf of Finland together with four more bridges, a tunnel and a half tunnel. The tender winner promised to complete the project in three years. MMS named a construction cost of 120 billion rubles including expenses for the necessary infrastructure. The investor will provide 69.3 billion rubles with the federal government covering the balance. A kilometer of the toll road’s central segment will cost 10.25 billion rubles making it the most expensive roadway in Russia (when comparing its cost per km).
The Western High Speed Diameter is the first intracity toll road set into operation in May 2011 (the first section of the south area was launched end 2008, but traffic was free until 2011). The total length of the toll road is planned to be 46.6 km. Its southern and northern segments are financed from the budget of St. Petersburg and subsidized investments with construction costs amounting to more than 200 billion rubles.
During August, the work was well under way also for other objects relating to the municipal transport infrastructure. Two construction projects of the Orlovski road tunnel and a new Pulkovo terminal were approved by the State Expert Evaluation Department (Glavgosekspertiza) on 16th and 25th of August, respectively.
Starting from September 16, Nevskaya Kontsesionnaya Kompania OOO (a Russian company of the Vinci Group building concern from France, the project investor) will commence initial works on the Orlovski tunnel. The project is scheduled for completion in 2015, and the city plans to open the tunnel for traffic a year after, in 2016. The 44.7 billion project will be implemented through a public-private partnership. According to concession terms, 33.3% of construction costs will be financed from the federal public purse (RF Investment Fund), the same share will come from the city budget, and the rest will be covered by the investor.
This August was also marked by major events at a couple of other transport municipal objects, not as large-scaled and costly as the ones discussed above, but quite important for the city as well. On August 18, the first stage of the Kolomyazhsky overpass was launched, and on August 28, a tunnel under Liteyny Bridge was set into operation.
Both projects will become key elements in the transport infrastructure of St. Petersburg. Opened in August, the first part of the Kolomyazhsky overpass goes above railway lines of Sestroretsk direction offering three traffic lanes from the Primorsky district to the city centre. In summer 2012, the second stage of the overpass is to be launched, from the city centre to the Primorsky district. The adjacent road network is also projected for reconstruction covering new interchanges and a bridge across the Chernaya (Black) River in Karelsky lane. The Kolomyazhsky overpass is meant to make the Primorsky district of St. Petersburg a lot more accessible for traffic. But to change the situation completely in the district surrounded by railway lines, an overpass near Poklonnaya Mountain is heavily needed supplemented by a valid interchange between the orbital motorway (KAD) and Komendantsky Avenue.
The newly launched tunnel under the Liteyny Bridge will be the most significant part of the project planned to provide continuous traffic along the right bank of the Neva River. The construction of a new tunnel joining Pirogovskaya embankment with Arsenalnaya was completed last May. And now the tunnel’s old part has been reconstructed, too. Due to the end-to-end two-way traffic open at the embankment, there is no need now for a long bypass near Finlandsky Train Station.
After the Orlovski road tunnel and the West High Speed Diameter have been constructed and the reconstruction of the Obvodnoi Channel has been completed, together with Neva Embankment they will form a single highway enabling to go round the city center by “a small belt route.”
Local transport infrastructure will continue to evolve during the years coming. It is the only way out for the city strangled by traffic jams. At the same time, it is already evident that new roads, bridges and tunnels are not enough for settling traffic problems. Additional measures are needed implying new parking lots, public transport development, and various legislative measures. Unfortunately, until recently these issues did not get enough attention. As a result, the time was lost to plan the development of the road network and its long-term object construction.
Other regions of Russia are entering the next decade under the same sign of booming transport construction. Huge international events would become a perfect driving force for developing regional transport system like the APEC summit in Vladivostok in 2012, the World Student Games in Kazan in 2013, the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014 and the FIFA World Cup in 2018.
In fact, they have already leveraged major infrastructure projects, and not only in road transport, but also in other industries covering air, railway, sea and river services.
The final choice of future projects will be lobbied at the highest level as astronomical amount are at stake. The Russian Railways OAO has already offered a 3.6 trillion ruble plan of railway development by the FIFA World Cup 2018. The main part of the sum (up to 2.5 trillion rubles) is meant to be invested in high speed railway services with half of it coming from the state budget. Other members of the transport industry would not fail to announce their own prospects with the related prices. In the end, the choice of projects and their further implementation will be directly related to the economical situation in Russia and in the world, but in any case the country’s needs would require additional financing sources. Still, let’s hope that the transport industry and its infrastructure will be developing steadily and gradually always leaving us a choice between a plain or a train, a car or a steamer.