#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Transport infrastructure is a key component of the socio-economic development of any territory and state, since the goods produced should be delivered to the consumer, as well as the consumers themselves need to be transported to their desired destinations. Water transport is actively involved in navigation, including for the needs of the northern delivery. Aviation is also used, but this is the most expensive and most weather dependent delivery method. Automobile transport remains the most accessible in the Arctic.
Only 70 percent of Russian highways are paved, and their average density is 57 kilometers per thousand kilometers of the country’s area.
The ‘hard road surface’ category includes not only asphalt, but also gravel and crushed stone roads. The share of paved roads out of all “hard” roads in Russia is about 45 percent.
In the Russian Arctic, the situation is even more tense. For example, the density of roads in Taimyr is 350 times less than the average for Russia, in Chukotka – 46 times less, in the Nenets Autonomous District – 33.
At the same time, in the Arctic, the share of paved roads is only 14 percent. You can get to most settlements only by winter roads – temporary roads that are laid when stable subzero temperatures come.
Winter roads can be conditionally divided into general and special-purpose roads. It is very difficult to transport heavy equipment along a general winter road: the equipment will be buried in snowdrifts and fall through.
A special-purpose winter road is a full-fledged ice road from which all snow is blown out and along which anyone can move, including heavy equipment, providing equipment delivery to hydrocarbon or ore deposits in the Arctic.
At first glance, the winter roads building technology looks simple, but in fact it is almost a science. Until recently, it was regulated by the norms approved before the USSR collapse – in 1990. But over the past three decades, a lot has changed: there are much more cars, multi-axle dump trucks and multi-tonnage trucks have appeared.
Therefore, in August 2020, a new GOST was adopted, and all Arctic winter roads and ice crossings will be created according to uniform standards.
For example, if up to 500 cars pass along the road per day, then they can move at a speed not exceeding 70 kilometers per hour, and the winter road itself has to be at least eight meters wide with two lanes.
Strict requirements should make driving on winter roads almost as safe as on regular roads. But this does not mean that over time, roads made of snow and ice will not be replaced by permanent roads with hard, including asphalt, surfaces. The development of transport infrastructure in the Arctic is one of the strategic priorities at the state level. Technology is also advancing.
Text: Ekaterina Maksimova, Photo: Denis Kozhevnikov