Major cities such as Toronto, New York and Los Angeles are all plagued by gridlock. But no matter how bad the traffic may be, few urban centres have congestion problems comparable to Moscow, Russia, where the drive to work has become so snarled, the country’s considering moving the capital to outside the city.
The Global Urbanist looked into Russia’s plan to recreate the capital and noted that in a city of 11.5 million residents, there are about 4 million vehicles on the road.
That’s more than six times the amount of motorists counted in 1991. And Sunday drivers just swell those numbers with about 1 million extra cars coming into Moscow from the surrounding district.
Even before Moscow gobbled up surrounding territories that are now part of the New Moscow in 2011, the city’s population density neared 11,000 per square kilometre, which was far above any other European city.
All the makes for some pretty packed roadways. Though new major radial routes were built, none went up beyond the city limits because the long-time mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, didn’t see eye-to-eye with the surrounding province’s governor.
The average commute time to Moscow has been reported to be 1.5 hours in length. And when a major snowstorm hit earlier this month, Muscovites were stuck in traffic jams 3,500-kilometres in length (the distance from Moscow to Madrid).
And the pressure on the existing highways doesn’t seem like it’ll ease up anytime soon. Luzhkov envisioned a global business centre, Moskva Siti, just four kilometres west of the Kremlin. Slated to have 250,000 to 300,000 employees, the center will just add more traffic to the city.
Things have gotten so crazy, both in and out of the capital, that many Russian motorists have fixed dashboard cameras to their vehicles since collisions are common and law enforcement is, shall we say, lax. Wired explained this is why so many dash-cams out of Russia captured footage of the massive meteor that fell from the sky back in January.
In June 2011, then President Medvedev expanded Moscow’s city limits to the west and southwest into the oblast, or province, and announced that both city and oblast would become a new federal district. With New Moscow 2.5 times its original size, Medvedev planned to move federal and city governments outside the core into an unspecific number of bureaucrat-based towns in the new districts.
Though a competition to design the New Moscow was launched in 2012, momentum have fizzled. The Global Urbanist reported that over the summer, media pegged the cost of infrastructure for the new territory at an incredible 1 trillion rubles (or over $33 billion).
The administration is now believed to be rethinking the move. President Vladimir Putin appears to be leaning toward the creation of a new government centre near the Kremlin in order to consolidate agencies that are scattered around the capital.
Meaning Moscow’s traffic woes aren’t likely to ease up anytime soon.
For a fascinating look at just how bad the situation is, check out this report on the “Traffic Santa,” a Moscow-based road warrior who helps people enter a frequently jammed ring road: