Russia to Build 120-km Highway to Crimea for $1.5bn

Russia plans a $1.5 billion (100 billion rubles) highway to Crimea, in a bid to dramatically cut journey times and develop tourism on the peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, reported Monday.

The first section will be 68 km long and is slated to cost almost 60 billion rubles ($919 million), with the length of the entire route eventually reaching 119 km, the authorities said.

The project is part of a series of investments in connecting Crimea to ‘mainland’ Russia, spending on which has reached $7.7 billion (500 billion rubles), according to daily newspaper Vedomosti.

This includes the construction of the Kerch Strait bridge, which cost 228 billion rubles ($3.48 billion). Meanwhile, 166 billion rubles ($2.53 billion) were also allocated to the 250-kilometer Tavrida highway, which continues from the bridge into the peninsula itself.

The ever-increasing demand to visit Crimea has taken its toll on the current infrastructure, with roads being unable to cope with the mass flow of cars, especially in the summer — about 36 thousand vehicles per day.

The development of the new route will reduce the travel time from Krasnodar to the bridge from 2 hours 40 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes, and offer increased capacity. Initially, officials planned to reconstruct existing roads, but it was determined to be cheaper to build a brand new one.

Krasnodar is Russia’s fastest-growing city, attracting large amounts of migrants because of its warm climate. The eponymous region hosts 17 million visitors annually and includes 2014 Olympic host city Sochi, as well as resorts such as Gelendzhik and Anapa.

There are currently two roads leading from Krasnodar to Crimea, and the construction of a new highway will help relieve congestion on routes passing through other towns. The current shortest and most popular way, which passes through Slavyansk-on-Kuban, is about 150 km long. As it goes through residential areas in different settlements, the average speed along the route is about 60 km/h. The brand-new four-lane highway will have an estimated average speed of 120 km/h.

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