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The road to Romania (The Odessa Oblast presentation)

April 25, 2016

Having mentioned recently (again) the necessity of maximising the relationship between Romania and Ukraine, the 25th April saw the Oblast Administration release estimates for a new 4 lane road from Odessa to Reni – and beyond into Romania, entering at the Orlovka-Isakchea border point.

There are 3 phases to the construction of this road.

Phase 1 is the Odessa to Shabo road, approximately 81 kilometers in length, including a bridge of almost 6 kilometers over the Dniester.  This cost has been estimated at $700,000 for the road – $400,000 for the bridge.

The second phase is a stretch of road to Orlovka of approximately 180 kilometers at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion.

The final stage, which seems likely to be part funded by Romania (and/or perhaps the EU via one of its many regional development budgets) is a 10 kilometer stretch of road, including a bridge over the Danube of approximately 4.5 kilometers in length.  The total cost $1.7 billion.

A grand total of approximately $4.6 billion for approximately 260 kilometers of 2 dual carriageways with a combined road width of approximately 29 meters, two substantial bridging projects, about 22 minor structures and an approximated usage of between 16,000 – 22,000 vehicles per day.

Aside from some Romanian (and/or EU funding) at the Isakchea end, the funding appears to be currently sourced from central government and customs duties payments allocated from those collected at Odessa Port (presuming the current transparent workings of Odessa Part are not toppled by the usual suspects/vested interests in the immediate future and the “old nefarious ways” return with a vengeance.)

Odessa Reni

$4.5 – $5 billion does seem a lot of money.  Questions will undoubtedly be asked about such a sum – and quite rightly.  Every single possible US$ return, both tangible and intangible, will have to be squeezed out of such a project.

To be blunt the existing road has long exceeded its lifespan, and to continue to employ “bodge it and scarper” patching contractors employing inferior materials and accompanying poor tradesmanship is financially self-defeating too.

That said, the new road, as Rome, is not going to be built in a day, ergo the budgetary costs will not have to be met in one budgetary period, but planned across several.  Construction is supposed to begin at the end of May 2016.

The new road is also about more than infrastructure and facilitating 22,000(ish) vehicles with a swift and quality trade/transport route.

The road is also clearly a political project too.  It ties Odessa as a city to the southwest of Odessa Oblast, and then onward to Romania and thus the EU not only physically, but also psychologically.  It is thus important to make the most of the proposed new infrastructure not only economically and politically, but also socially within and without the Oblast and national borders.

Courtesy of LB.ua

Courtesy of LB.ua

Briefly considering the above factual information, a reader may ponder whether there has been, is, or will be any thought toward a cycle lane.  In dropping this anchor into the Romanian and European infrastructure, then surely it should accommodate all the existing Romanian and European infrastructure that already exists at the other end.

There are numerous official Eurovelo routes across the EU.  One of those routes is Eurovelo 6.  This particular cycle route runs from France to Romania and could easily be afforded an official spur along the new road into Odessa city.

Indeed this blog was approached about just that, and whether there would be the interest and political support by the political class of Odessa.   If not could such interest and political support be generated?

Such things are not a problem.  A few words with a longtime good friend Petr Obyhov then of the Odessa Oblast Rada, and Odessa MP Alexie Goncharenko, et voilà –

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The only prerequisite required in getting such documentation swiftly is knowing which of the local political class are keen cyclists and which are not.  Knowing both Messrs Goncharenko and Obyhov are extremely keen cyclists guarantees the support.  Official political support as requested for the Eurovelo planning people in Brussels duly delivered (and “brownie points awarded to the blog for accomplishing such a simple task).

From a local societal perspective, as this blog occasionally glances at unpublished yet official opinion polls, there is a demand from the local constituency for an expansion of city-wide dedicated cycle lanes.  A most recent (official but unpublished) opinion poll had 5% of the city population “very keen” for the expansion of dedicated cycle lanes in the city.  (A percentage that can influence election results for any would-be Mayoral candidates in a city of 1 million plus.)

Ergo, cycling to and from Odessa – Romania (and vice versa) is likely to become quite popular, and also benefit the local economies of the towns and villages along the route in south-west of the Oblast.   Indeed when the Eurovelo people approached the blog, they had already completed the ride despite an existing road surface as cratered as the lunar surface.

E6

EV6 (Pink)

 

EV6

EV6

In summary, a reader may wonder how thorough the thinking by the Odessa Oblast Administration as to how to maximise the cultural and societal ties the proposed $4.6 billion Odessa-Reni road can bring.  What else lurks the other side of the Romanian border that can spur toward Odessa?  To squeeze every last intangible societal and cultural US$ from this political and economic investment, in pursuing the official EV6 spur to its bureaucratic conclusion, perhaps a marked cycle lane on the new road, and a few “EV6” signposts will go a little way in doing so.

When many within the Odessa community engage in 100 kilometer fun rides, cycling 260 kilometers on a quality surface into Romania will probably seem like a fun weekend for quite a few (perish the thought)!

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