Volgograd Gets Ring Road Boost To Ease Traffic And Boost Trade Along Europe’s Largest River

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11 Of Russia’s 20 Largest Cities Lie Along The Volga Route, while Volgograd Connects Calais to Kazakhstan

Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

The Russian city of Volgograd, which is sited on the Volga River, is the recipient of what will be the largest road development Russia has seen for the past five years. The Volgograd bypass project is largely aimed at redirecting Volgograd’s huge traffic flow, especially cargo transportation, and moving it outside the city, which is located half-way between Moscow and Russia’s southern regions. The project is also seen as an opportunity to develop the Volgograd territory as a whole, drawing in new businesses and investors.

“This project is one of the largest for the next five years – I’m not talking merely about money, I’m talking about the scale of the project. It is easy to see: at the moment, three federal highways converge in the city, which makes it impossible to live in.” Russian presidential aide Igor Levitin was quoted as saying.

The cost of it is estimated at 19 billion rubles (US$290 million), according to the construction agreement. Work on the first stage of the road has already started in the Svetloyarsky district of the Volgograd region. The first stage of the bypass is set to be completed in 2024. It is to include construction of three motorway interchanges and a bridge across the Volga-Don Shipping Canal. According to the local authorities, the bridge over the canal is the most complex part of the entire project, as they “can only carry out the superstructure sliding during the inter-navigation period,” which starts in December.


The Proposed Volograd Bridge Over The River Volga

Volograd holds a special place as a city in Russian history; previously known as Stalingrad it was the centre of intense fighting against the Nazi Germans in World War 2 and was subjected to intense artillery fire. Over 2 million people died in the battle which raged for 6 months and essentially leveled the city. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses, meaning that Stalingrad was a turning point in the war against the Nazis.

Today the city has a population of just over a million, and is an important industrial base. Industries include shipbuilding, oil refining, steel, aluminum and chemical production, as well as machinery and an auto industry. The Volga is a navigable river, can take larger container vessels and provides access to Russia’s heartland.

The Volga River is the longest river in Europe with a catchment area of 1,350,000 square km. It is also Europe’s largest river in terms of discharge and its drainage basin. The Volga flows through Central Russia and into the Caspian Sea, while eleven of the twenty largest cities in Russia, including Moscow, are located in the Volga’s drainage basin.

Volgograd itself is a major railway junction served by the Privolzhskaya Railway. Rail connections from Volgograd include Moscow; Saratov; Astrakhan; in addition to Ukraine, the Caucasus and Siberia. The European Route E40, which connects with Calais to the West and Ridder in Kazakhstan to the east, also passes through Volgograd, as does the Russian M6 highway linking Moscow and the Caspian Sea. This makes Volgograd an important strategic and logistics hub along the Belt & Road and Eurasian Economic Union, one reason for the new highway development.

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