Staunton, Dec. 5 – Just how difficult Russia is finding it to develop the Far North is highlighted by a story of a 600 km-long highway that has been under construction there since the 1980s and that Moscow is now promising that the final 40 km of the route will be opened sometime before the end of 2022.
Atle Staalesen of The Barents Observer says that this road once completed will be the first land route from a prime oil and gas region to the coast. Up to now, people have depended on airplanes and industry on pipelines (thebarentsobserver.com/ru/turizm/2021/12/posle-30-let-stroitelstva-doroga-v-dalekoy-tundre-priblizhaetsya-k-konechnomu-punktu).
The people of the Nenets AO hope they will be finally able to drive to the neighboring Komi Republic. At present, more than 500 workers and 500 pieces of machinery are involved “in the construction of the remaining 39.2 km of road in this federally funded project, Staalesen continues.
Regional governor Yury Bezdudny is enthusiastic. “This road is not some Potemkin village, but a real achievement, something that will transform the life of the region.” Most importantly, it will cut the prices people have to pay for goods and especially food, almost all of which has to be brought in from the outside (adm-nao.ru/press/governor/28223/).
But the governor is not satisfied with this project. He wants an entire network of roads to be constructed, although when that might happen is far from clear. And even when the highway is declared completed, that will not be the end of the story. As Staalesen notes, “the first 97 km of the road build between1991 and 2004 now needs serious repairs.”