Alexander Oreshkin: City residents should judge the results of our work

Alexander Oreshkin: City residents should judge the results of our work
The Head of the Motor Roads Agency discusses spring-time road resurfacing and new road-repair technologies.

Alexander Oreshkin, Head of the Motor Roads Agency

The city will launch large-scale road repairs and resurfacing this April. In this mos.ru interview, Alexander Oreshkin, Head of the Motor Roads Agency, discusses plans to repair and resurface over 18 million square metres of local carriageways and an asphalt resurfacing programme, due to include most road sections where potholes were filled in this past winter.

Question: Mr Oreshkin, the local winter season is almost over. Could you say a few words about its results?

Alexander Oreshkin: The 2017 winter season turned out to be more difficult than previous winters. First, it began one month earlier than usual. The city also experienced heavy snowfalls and 2.8 metre snowdrifts, exceeding average annual levels by almost one metre.

Here is a more detailed breakdown: November, December and January snowfall levels totalled 10-15, 25 and 40 centimetres, respectively. It’s still too early to sum up the winter season’s results because our services officially end this season only in mid-April.

If we compare Moscow with European cities, we can see that temperature fluctuations around the freezing point are recorded there only twice each winter

By early March, utility agencies had removed over 25 million cubic metres of snow, or 50 percent more than in 2016. About 11,000 snow-removal vehicles operated on city streets during heavy snowfalls. What’s important is that, regardless of snowfall volumes, we clean roads in line with summer standards, and this allows drivers to keep to the speed limit.

Regular temperature fluctuations around the freezing point are among the most difficult weather phenomena. In other words, warming followed by freezing temperatures.

Question: How many times did the temperature fluctuate around the freezing point this winter?

Alexander Oreshkin: In all, 70 such fluctuations were posted since the beginning of the winter season. We recorded 12 fluctuations in November 2016 alone. It goes without saying that this has an extremely negative impact on road conditions. If we compare Moscow with European cities, we can see that these temperature fluctuations around the freezing point are recorded there only twice each winter.

Question: Were the city’s utility agencies able to cope with snow removal this year?

Alexander Oreshkin: City residents and oversight agencies should judge the results of our work for themselves. My assessment will not be completely objective. I can note that, as usual, the work of our employees was efficient and well-coordinated. During extreme weather conditions, utility agencies operated 24 hours a day, with emergency on-call teams standing by for possible cleanup operations, due to bad weather.

Question: This year’s spring season has coincided with the calendar, a rare occurrence. Are you already preparing for the new season?

Alexander Oreshkin: Yes, we have started washing streets and replacing curbs at city facilities. We are improving lawns and cleaning sewage intakes. The main road repair and resurfacing operations will be launched after we start posting above-zero temperatures around-the-clock.

Question: How many road markings will be replaced?

Alexander Oreshkin: This year, we will apply road markings on 4,500 road structures with a total area of over 2.7 million square metres.

First and foremost, we will work on central streets, near schools, preschools and kindergartens, cultural and religious centres and other social facilities. After that, we will move on to all the main transport routes, pedestrian crossings, and bus, trolleybus and tram stops.

Question: Do you plan to use any new technologies for applying markings?

Alexander Oreshkin: All our technologies are relatively new. For example, we mostly apply cold-plastic markings. We don’t have to heat up this material in advance, and it does not become deformed.

This season, the city utility infrastructure will repair and resurface over 18 million square metres of carriageways

Question: When will you launch large-scale springtime road repairs this year?

Alexander Oreshkin: As always, we will start working in April after dry and warm weather finally sets in, and we will complete our projects by late October.

This season, the city utility infrastructure will repair and resurface over 18 million square metres of carriageways. Over three million square metres of two-layer asphalt-concrete carriageways will be resurfaced under the My Street programme, and we will resurface the remaining 15 million square metres under routine maintenance projects, including sections of the Moscow Ring Road, the Third Ring Road, radial routes and central city streets.

Question: And what about small road sections that you resurfaced in winter?

Alexander Oreshkin: Most of these carriageways have expended their service life. Therefore many streets with filled-in potholes will be included in the asphalt-resurfacing programme in the spring and summer of 2017.

The city is focusing on carriageway quality. The system of public control and the Our City website are among the most effective mechanisms. Any city resident can inform us about deteriorating carriageway quality.

Many streets with filled-in potholes will be included in the asphalt resurfacing programme during the spring and summer of 2017

Asphalt disintegrates more quickly in autumn and winter, due to rapidly fluctuating temperatures above and below the freezing point, high precipitation levels and numerous underground utility mains. All these factors make asphalt less durable.

We conduct local repairs all year round to maintain carriageways in a proper state. Conventional asphalt mixtures are used for these purposes in summer. Each winter, we use die-cast high-temperature and extremely viscous asphalt-concrete.

Each winter, special vehicles with boiler reservoirs generating temperatures of plus 220 degrees Celsius deliver die-cast mixtures. These high temperatures make it possible to completely evaporate all liquids from small road potholes for quick and high-quality repairs.

This winter, we have eliminated over 8,000 potholes. Our Agency responds to city residents’ complaints and to the requests of local councils as quickly as possible, and our teams eliminate all damage within 24 hours.

Two other asphalt-concrete plants will open by summer

Question: The city manufactures the bulk of asphalt for road repairs and resurfacing. What new technologies do you use?

Alexander Oreshkin: We own eight asphalt-concrete plants and one cement-concrete plant. Two other asphalt-concrete plants will open by summer.

Of course, we focus on the introduction of new technologies. Last year, we conducted an experiment and used bitumen ribbons for fastening adjacent carriageway lanes. Seams between old lanes and newly installed ones are a major problem, because cracks form more quickly there.

Regarding the composition of the asphalt-concrete mixture, we have started using a bitumen-polymer mixture, rather than ordinary bitumen, more often during road construction projects in the past few years. This highly resilient and durable bitumen-polymer mixture is able to handle all kinds of loads. We have also replaced standard gravel with gabbro-diabase gravel made from subsurface rock. This, too, makes carriageways more durable.

Question: Last year, you posted road resurfacing and repair information on the Open Data website. Will you do the same in 2017?

Alexander Oreshkin: Yes, we will also post road repair and resurfacing deadlines on the Open Data website before the year is out. We hope that this schedule will be ready soon. However, it can be amended during the entire repair and resurfacing season because specific projects depend on weather and technical conditions.

Question: You have been using mobile laboratories to scan various road structures for several years. Do they really help?

Alexander Oreshkin: Our Agency owns five laser scanning systems with photo cameras. Laser units help us calculate the exact volume of fresh asphalt on local streets, calculate the parameters of projects to apply road markings, compile 3D models of any structure, obtain exhaustive data on road infrastructure facilities and monitor the volume and quality of repair and resurfacing operations.

Question: What other tools do you use for checking roads?

Alexander Oreshkin: Last year, we used ground-penetrating radars under the My Street programme for the first time. They helped us detect cavities under the asphalt. We dug up holes there and strengthened the carriageway. This will prevent the ground from caving in.

We studied Tverskaya Street separately to choose tree-planting locations. We had to choose various locations, so that utility mains would not hamper the growth of trees.

Ground-penetrating radars are complex instruments, and they do not pinpoint obvious carriageway defects. They simply provide diagrams that are studied by the few experts working in this area. These people have a really packed schedule.

Question: Your Agency also plants trees in the city. So when will Moscow start blooming?

Alexander Oreshkin: Last autumn, we planted tulips at important city facilities, and these flowers will bloom by 1 May. And we will soon start planting violets at all our flowerbeds.

We plant our flowers so that some of them will be smoothly replaced by others each spring and summer. In all, there are plans to plant over eight million flower crops this year, including about six million annual plants, such as petunias, tagetes, coleus, etc. The city will also receive over two million biennials, primarily violets. 

This year, such annual flowers as the tuberous begonia, a decorative plant whose flowers resemble the camellia and the pelargonium, more commonly called the geranium, will bloom at our flowerbeds for the first time

Question: Will you install new flowerbeds?

Alexander Oreshkin: No, all flowerbeds will remain the same. In the past few years, the city has been planting perennials, including roses and peonies. The area where they are planted will be doubled this year. We will also plant day-lilies with large yellow or orange flowers, perennial sedums with leathery leaves that retain their decorative properties until the first sub-zero temperatures and astilbe plants with tiny white, pink and purple leaves.

Question: And what flowers will bloom here for the first time?

Alexander Oreshkin: This year, such annual flowers as the tuberous begonia, a decorative plant whose flowers resemble the camellia and the pelargonium, more commonly called the geranium, will bloom at our flowerbeds for the first time. An evergreen plant, called love-lies-bleeding or pendant amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus), will also appear. Its inflorescence consists of numerous tiny crimson-red or yellow-green flowers. This plant is called an evergreen because its leaves don’t fall off and look very beautiful even when they have wilted away.

As I see it, one of the city’s most beautiful flowerbeds is located near the Triumphal Arch. We will plant such flowers as the African marigold, the begonia, the ageratum, the coleus and the cineraria here by summer.