Roads comfortable and safe
According to a recent study by the American Institute of Public Opinion (Gallup Poll), Belarus is ranked 68th for the quality of its roads — among 148 countries. This is significantly ahead of its partners in the Customs Union and its neighbours: Poland, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania
By Vasily Khromchenko
This year, Belavtodor carried out minor repairs on over 850km of roads, with major repairs on 42km. A number of important projects were completed, including a southwest bypass for Vitebsk, a new bridge over the River Dnieper in Shklov and a new segment of the M4 Minsk-Mogilev motorway. Road surfaces are being improved by the addition of rubber ‘crumbs’, with the M4 piloting the innovation. The motorway features rest locations with parking and roadside services while cameras can transmit information in real time to monitor traffic flow. Display boards can then inform drivers of delays ahead. A wire cable guardrail divides the traffic in some segments, to help deter head-on collisions, while forested areas have a net barrier to keep out animals.
“This year, reconstruction began on the M5 Minsk-Gomel route, between Pukhovichi and Bobruisk, to be completed in 2013. The M5’s Zhlobin-Gomel segment is also due for improvement, in 2014, with funding sought from the Export-Import Bank of China. We expect that, over the next three years, the M5 will match that of the M4 in quality. Negotiations are also underway to attract credit to reconstruct the M6 Minsk-Grodno road,” notes the Deputy Director of Belavtodor, Grigory Shulga.
In the near future, all regional centres are to be linked with the capital by high-quality roads. By 2017, a second ring road around Minsk should be operational; to achieve this, two sections (85km long) should be joined with the existing ring road to create a total length of about 160km.
In the field of road construction and repairs, Western European experience can be drawn upon, alongside its methods of financing. Belarus will boast roads like Germany when citizens pay for them in the same manner as the Germans. The only road currently featuring a toll is the Brest-Minsk M1/E30 but Austrian company Kapsch is now contracted to introduce an automatic payment system, requiring about 260m Euros of investment. The reconstructed Brest-Minsk, Minsk-Mogilev and Minsk-Gomel roads will be the first to trial the new system.
Despite obstacles, the main task is to keep roads in good condition via maintenance. This ensures comfort and safety for transit vehicles and passengers while aiding the smooth functioning of the country’s economy.