Russian History



Roads were one of the least-used forms of transportation in the Soviet Union, a characteristic that has continued in the Russian Federation. Soviet industry placed little emphasis on the production of automobiles and other modes of personal transport, and the privately owned vehicle was a relatively rare phenomenon; therefore, the demand for road construction was small. The dominance of the railroads for cargo transport also constrained the demand for the construction of roads. In 1995 Russia had 934,000 kilometers of roads, compared with 6.3 million kilometers in the United States (see fig. 10). Of Russia's total, 209,000 kilometers were unpaved, and 445,000 kilometers were not available for public use because they served specific industries or farms.

The World Bank has estimated that in twenty years the demands of Russia's new economy will increase the road system's share of transportation to 41 percent from its 1992 level of 13 percent. However, in 1992 some 38 percent of Russia's highway system required rehabilitation or reconstruction, and another 25 percent required repaving. Many major bridges also required large-scale repair in the mid-1990s.