The EBRD is lending Russia US$290mn to build key sections of major new roads in St Petersburg and Far East Russia. The loan is part of the bank’s continued support for road-sector reform in Russia , including efforts to encourage greater private-sector involvement in the road network and require those users that put the greatest pressure on the system to contribute directly to the cost of its upkeep.

The loan is the biggest made by the bank since it was founded in 1991 and brings total EBRD lending for the Russian road sector to US$519mn.

The Russian Federation is the official borrower of the 15-year loan, while the project will be implemented by the State Road Administration, Rosavtodor, which is headed by Igor Slyunyaev, first deputy minister of transport. Rosavtodor is responsible for construction of the two roads, the St Petersburg by-pass and the 2,165km Chita-Khabarovsk road in the Russian Far East. The latter runs parallel to the Trans-Siberian railway.

A key aim of the bank’s road projects is to help remove bottlenecks and thus stimulate economic growth.

Last September, the EBRD lent Russia US$229mn to finance construction of other sections of these strategically important roads, which will allow heavy traffic to avoid the centre of St Petersburg and create the first all-weather road link to the Russian Far East. These two roads will benefit in equal measure from the EBRD’s follow-up loan.