The more than 600 km long road across the Nenets tundra took more than 30 years to build. Last week, the first vehicles drove the whole way from Naryan-Mar in the Nenets Autononous Okrug to Usinsk in neighboring Komi Republic.
“People in our region have been waiting for this opening for more than 30 years,” Nenets Governor Yuri Bezdudny said in a ceremony last week. “Construction started in 1991, and only thanks to the support from our president we succeeded in complete the road,” he underlined.
The event was attended by several of the region’s top dignitaries, and on a video connection from Moscow was Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khisnullin.
The top government official is responsible for federal road construction, housing and urban development. He is also in charge of Moscow’s illegal re-construction operations in occupied Ukrainian territories. In the middle of March he guided Vladimir Putin around in parts of Mariupol and showed him how new housing quarters are being built.
The road connection between the two Arctic regions has cost more than 20 billion rubles (€235 million).
Until now, the 45,000 inhabitants of the far northern region have depended on air traffic. In wintertime, ice roads have been built on the frozen tundra.
The pace of road construction was significantly increased as the infrastructure object was included in federal priority programs. By late 2021, about 39 km of road remained to be built.
Parts of the road connection are no longer new. According to Governor Bezdudny, the first 97 km of the road that was built in the period between 1991 and 2004 is today in a serious need for upgrade.
The connection to the neighboring Komi region is believed to significantly help boost local economy. “The new transport artery will give a new breath to investment projects in our region, it will be the foundation of everything that will be built here,” Bezdudny explains.
The Nenets Autonomous Okrug is a major oil-producing region. A major part of the local population are Nentsy, the indigenous reindeer-herding people.
Related stories from around the North:
Russia: Transportation crisis looms in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer