Russian Infrastructure #1: Transportation
The recent construction of the Kerch Bridge between Russia and Crimea highlights the condition of Russian transportation infrastructure.
The national web of roads, railways and airways stretches almost 7,700 km (4,800 mi) from Kaliningrad in the west to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east, and major cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg are served by extensive rapid transit systems. __ Wikipedia “Transport in Russia”
Maintaining such an extensive set of interlinked transport systems is a taxing enterprise, with great challenges and significant potential for failure. Take bridges, for example:
Mikhail Blinkin, a transportation economist at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, says that “an enormous number of bridges are in a dangerous situation” because they aren’t being maintained. Those in the worst shape are bridges under the responsibility of regional or local officials. “There is no money” to do even minimal repairs, he adds. __ Quoted in WOE2 article
Russia has many bridges because it has many rivers and waterways that must be crossed by roads. Maintenance on many of these bridges has been postponed for several decades — since Soviet times — and the consequences of delayed maintenance are becoming severe.
100 Bridge Collapses Last Year Alone
The maintenance backlog on Russian bridges is ominous. But for many of these bridges, maintenance would not prevent their collapse.
According to Rosstat, there are abut 42,000 bridges in Russia, with a total length of 2.1 million meters. “Every ninth bridge is made of [wood],” and “about 500” are acknowledged to be at the point of collapse. Many were built when the weight of trucks they had to support was half as much as the weight now.
Aleksandr Strelnikov, a specialist at the Russian transportation ministry, says that many of the bridges were constructed inadequately and thus were going to fail regardless of maintenance.
Still worse, he continues, the quality of bridge construction has declined in recent years: it was far superior in Soviet times. Now, officials try to build bridges too quickly.
Brand New Kerch Bridge at High Risk of Collapse
“The bridge cannot be built, he said, and God help us if it is, since it can’t last.”
Assuming generous financing, the bridge can be built, but he doubts that it will last very long given the area’s poor geological conditions. These include deep-lying mud volcanoes and a sludgy bottom that is unsuitable for bridge foundations. Most disturbingly, it is an area of high seismic activity. The piles would need to be much deeper than they are in the current design, and he fears that the construction is likely to be weak. The bridge spans also need to be over 200 meters to ensure that they aren’t damaged when the water freezes; this is currently not in the plan. __ Georgy Rosnovsky quoted in Atlantic Council
The Kerch bridge was a “rush job” by the Kremlin, and understandably so. Politically for the Kremlin, it is an absolute necessity. But by any other measure, it is a huge disaster waiting to happen. It remains to be seen who will die first: Putin or the Kerch bridge.
Russian Transportation Conditions Mired in Twilight Zone
In despotic political systems, one cannot trust anything in the media. The ongoing collapse of Russia’s transportation infrastructure is effectively hidden by government control of the media.
Many of the bridge collapses now are not even reported in the central media, and so Russians do not know just how bad things are becoming beyond the areas in which they live. __ WOE2
If the FIU walkway bridge collapse had taken place in Russia, it is likely that almost no one in the world would have heard of it. Likewise the famous Minneapolis freeway bridge collapse several years ago. To the Kremlin, no news is good news.
What is true for bridges is also true for roadways and for much of Russia’s railways, pipelines, and waterway infrastructures. Postponed maintenance over a period of decades is the rule, due to budgetary decisions at the highest levels.
Transportation infrastructure maintenance has been put on the back burner by Kremlin strategists, for reasons of financial necessity. In the future we will look at Russian infrastructures for education, health care, and energy, in an attempt to look a few years ahead at the state of the Russian Empire.
More: Putin bumbling into war? Remember that Ukraine is a partner with China in the development of various high value military projects, such as advanced gas turbine production. At the same time, Putin is China’s “but-boy” [sic] in almost every way. Interesting times.
If you dislike the idea of nuclear war, you will be happy to see Putin go