Three-Day Traffic Jam Strands Russian Motorists

Over the weekend, a 100-mile long traffic jam caused by snow, questionable decisions, and underinvestment on Soviet-era infrastructure, left 10,000 vehicles stranded on the M10 highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
December 4, 2012, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Andrew Roth reports on the mega traffic jam, which stranded travelers in subfreezing temperatures, and put Russia's leaders and the country's sub-par roads in the spotlight. "The din of complaints in the news media and on social networks refocused attention on the fragile state of Russia’s roads, which are prone to gridlock, even in the region around the Russian capital and the second-largest city, St. Petersburg."

"Years of underinvestment on Soviet-era infrastructure have left the M10, rarely free of traffic jams on the best of days, prone to nasty bottlenecks in several small towns that lack bypasses," notes Roth. "As the M10 gradually reopened on Monday, [Prime Minister Dmitri A] Medvedev and his deputies discussed a flurry of initiatives, including mobilizing Russian military engineers to avoid similar traffic jams or aid stranded drivers."

“'Let’s say that this is not a European road — it’s kind of a Russian road, forested, dark and covered in snow,' Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri O. Rogozin said at a meeting with Mr. Medvedev on Monday. 'So you can imagine the level of despair for some drivers.'”

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Published on Monday, December 3, 2012 in The New York Times
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