Russia Road Network

By | December 3, 2022

According to wholevehicles, Russia has 948,000 kilometers of road, 336,000 kilometers of which are paved. 411,000 kilometers of road has a paved surface in the form of gravel. 201,000 kilometers of road are actually dirt roads. Russia has a fairly extensive road network in the west of the country, but in Siberia only in the south. There are hardly any roads in the center, north and east of the country. There are towns that are not even accessible by road at all, such as on the immense Kamchatka Peninsula. The main road network consists of Magistrales, the M roads. These are the major through roads that regularly have 4 lanes in European Russia, whether or not in combination with the lack of a lane separation or grade-separated intersections. Around Moscowis a radial highway network. Most M-roads from Moscow are partly a motorway. In Siberia there are some grade separated roads around the cities, but there is no highway network.

What is striking in Russia is that the road network is quantitatively very extensive. Almost every town has a ring road and around larger cities there are very long ring roads, sometimes more than 100 kilometers. There are grade-separated intersections at almost every larger city. Approach roads with 2×2 lanes have been constructed around the major cities, including in Siberia. Most numbered roads are connected at a grade-separated level. For some roads, only very minor roads are connected via level, irregular intersections. In terms of quality, the road network often leaves much to be desired, although the roads have been greatly improved in recent years. Numerous bridges have been built across the major rivers in Siberia, making land travel much easier. The only route that is mostly unpaved, is the M56 (Lena-Kolyma) via Yakutsk to Magadan. The other M-roads are now paved. In 2010, the last section of the transcontinental route between Chita and Khabarovsk was paved.

The second layer of roads are the A-roads. These are mostly through roads of regional importance. They connect regional cities with the M roads and intermediate cities. This network is densest in the west of Russia, there are hardly any roads in the middle and east, so few A-roads. However, some A-roads lead from the east-west M-roads to the Mongolian or Chinese border.

The road network in the cities varies. Moscow has a major ring road (MKAD) which is the longest 2×5 lane highway in Europe. This is also one of the busiest roads in Europe. Sankt Petersburg will have a similar ring road. The roads in the big cities are often very wide and very busy. In Moscow, there are roads with 8 lanes in each direction without a median strip. Moscow is a compact city with many cars per square kilometer. One can find an alternative here in the presence of a large metro network. Some other Russian cities also have metro lines.

The weather conditions can certainly be harsh in winter. This applies to all of Russia, including the south and west of the country with snow storms and very low temperatures. In Siberia, temperatures can drop below -50 degrees, with cars barely functioning or able to start. However, in the interior of Siberia, the unpaved roads are the best to drive in winter. It is then also possible to cover great distances over frozen rivers and lakes.

Federal highways in Russia

The federal highways in Russia.

Length of highway network

There are no official data on the exact and current length of the Russian motorway network.

An assessment by the Road Wiki shows that in January 2021 Russia had 3,540 kilometers of motorway. These are the roads according to road category IA and IБ. These concern fully-fledged motorways, such as those found in Western Europe. Filtering was done on substandard elements, such as unseparated lanes, level crossings, U-turns and pedestrian crossings. Many Russian four-lane roads have these characteristics, which means that the number of kilometers of fully-fledged motorways is relatively low. In January 2021, of the 3,540 kilometers of motorway in Russia, 2,896 kilometers were in European Russia and 644 kilometers in Asian Russia.

History

In the 19th century, no network of roads was developed in Russia as in Western Europe. The society was very agrarian at the time, although there were historical trade routes, especially from Moscow to Yaroslavl and Nizhny Novgorod, where connections were made to the Volga. The main trade routes continued to Sankt Petersburg and Siberia. However, these were not improved roads as they were known in Europe and North America at the beginning of the 19th century. This was followed by the rise of the railways, which meant that road construction was no longer a priority at all. Numerous Russian cities in the north and Siberia were not accessible by road at all, but only by rail, such as Murmansk or Arkhangelsk.

Before World War II, Russia had a very limited network of asphalt roads, largely developed in the 1930s. This mainly concerned radial routes from Moscow, the best roads at the time were Moscow – Minsk (M1), Moscow – Kharkiv (M2), Moscow – Ryazan (M5), Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod (M7) and Moscow – Yaroslavl (M8). About half of the road Moscow – Sankt Petersburg (M10) was paved, the central part was still about 350 kilometers unpaved. There were no paved roads at all to southern Russia. This also applies to routes east of the Volga. There were also no bridges over the Volga at that time.

During the Second World War, large parts of western Russia were laid in ruins. In Siberia, road construction started just then because a lot of industry was moved beyond the Ural. Immediately after the Second World War, road infrastructure had little priority. In the 1950s, the Russian road infrastructure was far behind the rest of Europe. One of the first roads to be built was the M5 to Samara and the surfacing of the M10 between Moscow and St Petersburg.

Road construction only took serious shape in the 1960s. Many of Russia’s major highways were built as single-lane roads between 1960 and 1975. Most major cities were connected during that period. Road traffic increased in particular from the late 1960s when the VAZ car factory in Tolyatti was started up. Car production in the Soviet Union increased strongly around 1970 and the road network started to catch up with the rest of Europe.

One major obstacle, however, was the Volga. From the 1960s onwards, the first road connections were established with the construction of dams, but it was not until well into the 1980s before a road connection between Moscow and Kazan, for example, was completed. In particular, the roads built from the 1970s onwards have long straights, bypasses in many built-up areas and were designed for transit traffic. The communist planned economy also began to see the need for road transport. In 1969, the huge KAMAZ factory in Naberezhnye Chelny was established, which produced huge numbers of trucks every year. It was not until the mid-1970s that road traffic in Russia began to increase, the car became more common and the transport of goods by road increased.

In the 1970s they started doubling important roads, especially the approach roads from Moscow. In part this was for the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow. At that time, the M2 was built as a highway south of Moscow, this was Russia’s first longer stretch of highway. After the fall of the Soviet Union, many projects came to a standstill for a long time, sometimes for up to 10 years. In the second half of the 1990s, many abandoned projects were restarted.

After 2000 an attempt was made to improve the seriously neglected road network again. During that period, the last stretches of the Trans-Siberian Road to Vladivostok were asphalted, so that it was possible to travel from west to east throughout Russia. The road network was improved most around Moscow, the MKAD was widened to 2×5 lanes and most of the approach roads were modernized to motorways. Around Sankt Petersburg, the KADconstructed as a ring road. Around 2010 road construction again fell into a dip due to the economic crisis. After 2015, road construction increased again, mainly due to the paving of federal highways in Siberia and the construction of new urban infrastructure in and around Moscow and Sankt Petersburg. More long-distance roads were also widened to 2×2 lanes, most prominently the M4 to Rostov, the M29 along the Caucasus and parts of the M5 and M7 to the Ural. In 2019, the M11 was completed as a completely new motorway between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Between 2020 and 2024, all federal four-lane roads will be equipped with a center conductor if they are not already in place.

European roads

European roads in Russia
E18 • E20 • E22 • E28 • E30 • E38 • E40 • E50 • E58 • E77 • E95 • E97 • E101 • E105 • E115 • E117 • E119 • E121 • E123 • E125 • E127 • E262 • E391 • E592 • E017

Asian Highways

Asian Highways in Russia
AH3 • AH4 • AH6 • AH7 • AH8 • AH9 • AH30 • AH31 • AH60 • AH61 • AH63 • AH64 • AH70

Road management

The federal roads are managed by the Федеральное дорожное агентство (Federalkoye Dorozhnoye Agentstvo, Росавтодор (Rosavtodor) for short) The agency manages approximately 47,300 kilometers of roads, and includes all M-, some A- and some P This agency should not be confused with the new Российские автомобильные дороги (Rossijskiye Avtomobilnye Dorogi) which also has the abbreviation Росавтодор (Rosavtodor) and has had the same function since 2009. Most A and P roads fall under the oblasts or individual republics of Russia.

Road numbering

Road numbering in Russia is divided into a number of layers;

  • M roads (radians of Moscow)
  • A-roads (interregional)
  • R-roads (regional, represented by the Russian Р)
  • E-roads (European roads)
  • AH roads (Asian Highways)

Magisterial

The E and AH roads run over existing M roads. The M-roads are the most important, forming a radial network from Moscow for the numbers 1 to 11. Since 2011, the M-numbers that do not immediately start to expire in Moscow, have been renumbered to A- and R -weigh. Numbers 11 to 19 were in the northwest of Russia, numbers 20 to 29 were in the south. In addition, there was a series of 50 to 59, which were located east of the Ural Mountains. Not all songs in this series actually occur. The M-numbering dates back to Soviet times, many numbers in the series 20 – 29 used to be in Ukraine, and have since been renumbered. Numbers 30 to 49 are now in Central Asia and usually still exist under that number. In Russia and Central Asia, the roads are not renumbered, in the Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, as well as in the Caucasus Republics.

History

See Soviet Union#Road Numbering for a list of all road numbers.

The M numbers covered the major roads of the Soviet Union. They formed largely a radial system, almost all M roads start in Moscow or connect to roads to Moscow. Most of it was in the Russian SFSR, many other SSRs had only one or a few routes. The M50 series was reserved for Siberia. At the time, it was not yet possible to reach the Russian Far East via paved roads.

# Route Length
M-1 Moskva – Minsk – Brest – Poland 1,060 km
M-2 Moskva – Tula – Kursk – Belgorod – Kharkiv – Simferopol 1,400 km
M-3 Moscow – Kaluga – Bryansk – Kiev 860 km
M-4 Moskva – Voronezh – Novocherkassy – Rostov-na-Donu 1,070 km
M-5 Moskva – Ryazan – Penza – Samara – Ufa 1,470 km
M-6 Moskva – Tambov – Volgograd – Astrakhan 1,390 km
M-7 Moskva – Vladimir – Nizhny Novgorod – Kazan 820 km
M-8 Moskva – Yaroslavl – Vologda – Arkhangelsk 1,230 km
M-9 Moscow – Riga 920 km
M-10 Moskva – Tver – Veliky Novgorod – Leningrad – Vyborg – Finland 930 km
M-11 Leningrad – Tallinn 370 km
M-12 Minsk – Vilnius – Riga – Tallinn 790 km
M-13 Bryansk – Gomel – Kobryn 750 km
M-14 Brest – Lutsk – Ternopil – Chernivtsi – Kishinev – Odessa 1,020 km
M-17 Kiev – L’viv – Chop – Hungary 815 km
M-18 Leningrad – Petrozavodsk – Murmansky 1,340 km
M-19 Kiev – Kharkiv – Rostov-na-Donu 900 km
M-20 Leningrad – Pskov – Vitebsk – Gomel – Kiev – Odessa 1,700 km
M-21 Volgograd – Luhansk – Donetsk – Dnipropetrovsk – Kirovohrad – Kishinev 1,400 km
M-23 Rostov-na-Donu – Kherson – Odessa 805 km
M-24 Yerevan – Sevan – Gazakh 160 km
M-25 Simferopol – Kerch – Novorossiysky 355 km
M-27 Novorossiysk – Sochi – Sukhumi – Tbilisi – Baku 1,430 km
M-29 Rostov-na-Donu – Grozny – Makhachkala – Baku 1,280 km
M-32 Samara – Orenburg – Aktobe – Kyzylorda – Shymkent 2,200 km
M-34 Tashkent – Dushanbe 320 km
M-36 Yekaterinburg – Chelyabinsk – Kostanay – Karagandy – Almaty 2,480 km
M-37 Samarkand – Ashgabat – Krasnovodsk (Turkmenbashi) 1,600 km
M-38 Omsk – Pavlodar – Semey – Zaysan – China 1,325 km
M-39 Almaty – Bishkek – Taraz – Shymkent – Tashkent – Samarkand – Termez 1,500 km
M-41 Bishkek – Osh – Khorog – Dushanbe – Termez 2,100 km
M-51 Chelyabinsk – Omsk – Novosibirsk 1,450 km
M-52 Novosibirsk – Barnaul – Biysk – Gorno-Altaysk – Tashanta – Mongolia 950 km
M-53 Novosibirsk – Kemerovo – Krasnoyarsk – Irkutsk 1,850 km
M-54 Krasnoyarsk – Abakan – Kyzyl – Erzin – Mongolia 1,070 km
M-55 Irkutsk – Ulan-Ude – Chita 990 km
M-56 Boljshoj Never – Yakutsky 1,165 km
M-60 Khabarovsk – Vladivostok 750 km
Russia’s M-roads by numbering until 2018

Avtodoroga

The A-roads are roads with a federal importance. They mainly connect cities and M/R roads to airports and border crossings and other destinations of federal interest. All A roads have 3 digits. The A-roads in European Russia are often quite short, especially in the Moscow region. Elsewhere, A-roads are a bit longer. The A381, A382, A383 and A384 are short roads in northern Siberia and the Russian Far East that are not connected to other roads.

History

During the Soviet Unionall A roads had three digits. The A100 to A199 series ran in Russia, the A200 to A299 series in the former Western Soviet Republics and the A300 to A399 in the Caucasus and Central Asia. This numbering remained unchanged for a long time, but is no longer used in the western ex-Soviet countries, so most of the series 200 – 299 has fallen into disuse. These roads also used to cross borders, leaving some 200 numbers in Russia, but have been assigned to other routes since the 2011 renumbering. The A300 – A399 is still used in the Caucasus and Central Asia. They often have an important function, although they are of less long-distance importance than the M-roads. A-roads were not present in all areas. In particular, they were still common in Western Russia.

Many M and A roads had branches signposted with the same number, which can be confusing. Over time, many bypasses and bypasses have been built around the major cities, so that the M-number runs both through and around the city.

Regional roads

R-roads are regional roads and have a regional function. They are represented by the Cyrillic “Р”. For many areas these are main roads, although not all routes are paved. R-roads are found in almost all oblasts, krais and autonomous republics. Only in Chukotka, Nenets and Yamalo-Nenets there are no such roads. Since 2011, the R-roads have been divided into federal highways and other roads, under the management of the oblasts and republics.

The current road numbering system was introduced around 1980. Before that there was hardly any question of a road numbering system. E-numbers were assigned and adapted around 1997.

The lower R numbers are mainly located in northwestern and central European Russia. This rises to the east of European Russia and the south. The higher numbers above R300 are mainly in Siberia and the numbers above R400 mainly in the Russian Far East. The numbers above R500 only occur in Sakha Republic and Kaliningrad Oblast, two areas that are more than 4,000 kilometers apart.

Signage

Motorways have green signage with white letters, as is more often seen in eastern Europe. Major roads and regional roads have blue signposts with white letters. White signs with black letters are used in cities and for local purposes, but in practice these do not occur in rural areas. Signage is always in Cyrillic, sometimes in English and regularly in regional languages, for example Tatar. One should have a solid knowledge of Cyrillic to be able to find one’s way in Russia, especially outside the main roads the signposts are almost exclusively in Cyrillic.

Maximum speed

The maximum speed is 60 km/h in built-up areas and 90 km/h outside of it. The speed limit is 110 km/h on motorways. Since August 2013, 130 km/h is allowed on some highways, the R384 in Kemerovo oblast was the first highway where 130 km/h is allowed. For trucks, 70 and 90 km/h respectively apply outside built-up areas. Motorcyclists are not allowed to go faster than 90 km/h on Russian highways.

Toll

Most Russian roads are toll-free for passenger cars. Since 1998, tolls have been levied at a number of points, such as on the M4 near Lipetsk and the ZSD in Sankt Petersburg. Tolls are levied at a limited number of points, but this practice is not widespread, especially in the Pskov region, a number of secondary roads have been operated as toll roads. The rates vary, usually between 1 and 17 rubles per kilometre. Since November 15, 2015, all federal highways in Russia have tolls for freight traffic above 12 tons. Toll collection is done with an electronic toll system called Platon.

Road safety

In 2012, 28,000 road deaths occurred in Russia, which is 195 deaths per 1 million inhabitants, four times the EU average.

Russia Road Network