Long Awaited Eastern Ring Road Opens
Published: September 8, 2006 (Issue # 1202)
The eastern half of the ring road around St. Petersburg, or KAD, an ambitious project aimed at solving many of the city's traffic and environmental problems was officially opened Thursday."Now all cargo transport will be eliminated from the city center entirely, which will significantly improve the transport and the ecology situation in the city," Governor Valentina Matviyenko said Thursday.
The construction of the road included building the new Bolshoi Obukhovsky suspension bridge, also known as Vantovy Bridge, a new St. Petersburg landmark and one of the 40 biggest suspension bridges of this kind in the world.
Opened for traffic on Friday, the bridge will have further lanes added and be complete in 2007, Interfax reported on Thursday, citing Matviyenko.
The eastern section of the road allows drivers to bypass the city on north-south routes and connects the Primorsky and Moscow trunk roads. Construction on the $2 billion project began in 2001.
The newly opened road has "international significance" Russia's transport minister Igor Levitin told the Interfax news agency on Thursday because as from Friday vehicles will be able to travel directly to and from Moscow and neighboring countries without passing through St. Petersburg's center.
According to the City Hall, the government paid for the road's interchanges and ramps, while other costs of the road were met by investors.
However some experts say that the low number of ramps on and off the road significantly hampers the development of industrial areas alongside it, where logistics centers, warehouses, trading and entertainment facilities and major residential areas are planned.
"Of course the opening is a very important event for the city. Now we will have fewer traffic jams, lesser gas pollution, and fewer through-traffic in the city," said Alexander Veretin, communications deputy director at KAD-L, a state-run developer of the area alongside the road. "But the road is also of fundamental importance to its investors, and problems with the ramps still have to be solved."
"Four ramps were excluded from the initial project to save money, but the Leningrad Oblast administration, including our organization, believe that not only that the four ramps should be returned to the project but there is also a need for an additional two to be built," Veretin added in the interview to the St. Petersburg Times on Thursday.
If this is were to happen, the road would boost development in the area, Veretin said.
KAD-L has already signed $1 billion worth of contracts to develop the areas alongside the new road, with a further $3 billion estimated to be signed within the next two years.
Maxim Kharitonov, marketing manager of Euro Motors, a Ford dealership in St. Petersburg, thinks that regardless existing problems with the ramps the area around the road will be developed quickly.
"I know for a fact that many car dealers plan to build their showrooms alongside KAD," Kharitonov told the St. Petersburg Times on Thursday. "The defiencies in the road's infrastructure is less of a problem than the problem of finding a place to open a new showroom in the city. There are not many suitable sites left in St. Petersburg."
The ring road is to be completed in 2008 when the western half is due to be finished. City Hall said this will cost a further 25 billion rubles on its website on Thursday.