New Arctic Road Connects East & West Yamal In Asian Russia

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A new road connecting Salekhard and Nadym in in the Yamal Russian Arctic has opened for traffic, and provides new opportunities for economic development of the region’s western districts, Yamal’s Governor Dmitri Artyukhov said at the opening ceremony held this week.

The 344 km route crosses swampy areas, only previously passable in the deep Arctic winter for just four months. The road features 53 bridges, 46 deer crossings, and took nine years to complete due to the harsh weather conditions. During this time, more than one million truck journeys brought soil and asphalt-concrete mix. Four million square meters of crushed stone were laid.

The new road may be used by any type of vehicles, and provides a connecting route three times shorter: driving on the ice road took up to 15 hours, and now the distance may be covered within 4-5 hours.

Artyukhov stated “These are now completely different opportunities for businesses. People living in the western districts can see how the situation changes, how new retail companies come to work there. I hope, this will entail a higher quality of offered products.”

Larger retailers had experienced difficulties in coming to the region due to the absence of a road between the west and the east. Now, a leading Russian retailer, Pyaterochka, plan to enter the local market with  shops to open by the end of December.

The Nyda-Resource Company, making products from venison, fish and wild crops, expects new supplies and clients. The company plans to supply its products to Salekhard, which was previously out of the question without reliable transport connection.

The road is still not fully completed, although it is fully operational. A section of 183 kilometers has been covered with a layer of crushed stone and will remain in this state for a couple of years to allow the road to settle until constructors and scientists decide which is the most suitable way to lay the solid coating.

Artyukhov pointed to the climate warming and to the thawing and shifting permafrost. “The road under crushed stone should settle for a year or two. Thus, before laying asphalt, specialists will try to find out the local specifics. The road will have the final layer, of course, but specialists insist on a pause for a year or two to have a thorough monitoring to identify alarming spots and to reinforce them.”

The Yamalo-Nenets region mostly lies north of the Arctic circle, and winters last for up to eight months (whereas in the Arctic and sub-Arctic zones winters last for 68 days). The area is part of the Russian Arctic Free Trade Zone, the world’s largest in size. We discussed the opportunities arising through the development of the region in our article here.

The development of the Salekhard to Nadym expressway illustrates the efforts being put in and the difficulties of developing infrastructure connectivity throughout the Arctic area, but also showcases the creation of business opportunities when these are completed.

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