Flying high: How overpasses link Moscow districts

Flying high: How overpasses link Moscow districts
Ground-level railway crossings in Moscow are being gradually replaced with overpasses, viaducts or underpasses. This story discusses their advantages, and how to reach other districts without using the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD).

Railways link suburbs and outlying districts with central Moscow, but they can also divide neighbouring districts, or even one district, in some cases. Ground-level railway crossings function as bottlenecks and obstruct road traffic; and the safety of drivers and pedestrians at these places is also questionable.

A city policy decision

In 2011, the Moscow Government moved to draft a comprehensive approach to addressing transport issues. The city annually spends up to 70 percent of the Targeted Investment Programme’s funding for these purposes. The most obvious activities include efforts to constantly expand and improve the road and street network, to maintain the available infrastructure and to build new facilities.

But experts suggested an entirely new polycentric concept aiming to reduce congestion in central districts. This can be accomplished by creating jobs and businesses in various districts, including outlying areas. Ambitious projects over the past few years – including the renovation of industrial zones, the establishment of technology parks and Technopolis-type facilities and the improvement of embankments and construction of transit hubs/links – conform with this principle.

Efforts to solve problems at ground-level railway crossings are the core aspect of all these projects. Construction of overpasses spanning the tracks is part of road infrastructure development, and it also makes it possible to create new centres of attraction. Overpasses help drivers reach industrial zones more quickly and expedite construction of production facilities and residential areas.

In March 2013, the city and Russian Railways signed a cooperation agreement for building overpasses where railway tracks intersect with regional motor roads. About ten priority crossings, selected in line with this project, are to receive overpasses by 2017. These include overpasses near the Nizhniye Kotly station of the Moscow Railway’s Paveletsk line, the Peredelkino and Kryokshino stations of the Kiev line, the Shcherbinka station of the Kursk line and some others.

Here are just a few projects on this list.

Kryokshino

A vehicle overpass near the Kryokshino station at the 36th kilometre of the Moscow Railway’s Kiev line (Vnukovo-Bekasovo section) will guarantee safe vehicle traffic. The overpass will accommodate private vehicles and buses and will make it easier to reach local housing developments. The road’s capacity in this section will increase six-fold, from 350 to 2,100 vehicles per hour (in one direction). Surface transport will operate more smoothly, with buses running on time. It will also become possible to set up additional routes.

The overpass will benefit about 350,000 people in nearby districts of the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky Administrative Areas, future tenants of new residential developments and numerous drivers shuttling regularly between the Minskoye, Borovskoye and Kievskoye Motorways.

Pedestrians will use a more convenient and safer 2.2-metre-wide pavement crossing with two stairways on the overpass’s slopes. People with disabilities will use tactile pavers and ramps with an inclination of up to 50 percent. Four-centimetre-high curbstones are also stipulated.

The new construction project will also help upgrade the engineering infrastructure in nearby areas, including 2.21 kilometres of utility lines: a water conduit, a sewer system, a gas pipeline and communications and power transmission lines.

The total carriageway area of the 168-metre overpass and 3.1 kilometres of new roads will be almost 36,000 square metres. The overpass is now 60 percent ready; its load-bearing structures and sections spanning the tracks have been completed. The facility is set to open in the third quarter of 2017.

Peredelkino

A 126-metre hoof-shaped overpass will be built near the Peredelkino platform on the 18th kilometre of the Moscow Railway’s Kiev line. Its unusual shape is due to the fact that it was impossible to build a straight overpass with gently sloping access ramps because of high-density construction in the vicinity. The bridge will feature a de-icing system, with special machines spraying reagents at access and exit ramps in cold weather.

The 13-metre carriageway, with two lanes in each direction, will increase the railway crossing’s capacity by three times, from 300 to 900 vehicles. Unlike Kryokshino, this overpass, which is located far from the platform, will not admit pedestrians, who will continue to use the ground-level railway crossing with traffic lights.

Under this project, the local infrastructure will be improved. The city will build additional intersections with traffic lights, two local streets will be resurfaced, road markings with a total area of 1,200 square metres will be put in place, fences with a total length of about 1,300 metres and over 100 road signs will also be installed.The Peredelkino overpass is scheduled to open by late 2016.

Nizhniye Kotly

In July 2016, an overpass was opened near the Nizhniye Kotly station of the Moscow Railway’s Paveletsk line. This overpass accomplishes several important tasks. First of all, it links the Nagornaya metro station with Varshavskoye Motorway. Second, it increases the capacity of a road towards the Verkhniye Kotly industrial zone. There are plans to build a business centre and a residential area there, and unimpeded access will speed up the project’s implementation.

Sections of Elektrolitny Proyezd and Proyektiruyemy Proyezd Nos. 2147, 2139 and 1819 were expanded and upgraded during the overpass’s construction.

Completed projects include an overpass on Ryabinovaya Street for reaching the Skolkovo innovation hub more quickly. An overpass spanning railway tracks in Shcherbinka, scheduled to be opened in January 2017, will link western and eastern districts in this part of New Moscow.

Global trend and vital needs

The expanding road and street network and polycentric concept are in line with global policies being implemented in Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Sao Paulo and other big cities. The Russian capital’s efforts in this area are being recognised on a global scale. In June 2016, a Price Waterhouse Coopers survey ranked Moscow one of the leaders of road construction among 12 of the world's biggest cities. In Moscow, analysts continue to register a sustained major increase in the number of vehicles and the low density of roads and streets in relation to vehicle-traffic levels. They suggest expanding the road infrastructure and its capacity, a vital pre-requisite of urban development.

Expanding the capital’s road infrastructure

From 2011–2016, the city built and upgraded the following road structures and facilities, including some that are due to open before the year is out:

Over 500 kilometres of roads; the street and road network has expanded by 12.5 percent;

156 bridges, overpasses and underpasses, or 25 percent of the total number of road structures;

156 pedestrian overpasses and underpasses, or 39 percent of the total number of pedestrian crossings;

13 transport interchanges at intersections with the MKAD;

Eight outbound routes.