The EBRD today committed to a loan of up to EUR 200 million to fund a section of a new toll road by-passing the historic centre of St. Petersburg. It thus joined four other banks in raising a total of nearly 59 billion roubles (equivalent to EUR 1.5 billion) for a project which could divert up to 140,000 vehicles a day from this World Heritage site.
The other banks funding the project are Russia’s Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs Vnesheconombank (VEB), VTB-Capital, Gazprombank, as well as the Eurasian Development Bank which was founded by Russia and Kazakhstan. These four are providing the following loans:
- Vnesheconombank (VEB), 25 billion roubles
- VTB Capital and Gazprombank, 17 billion roubles
- Eurasian Development Bank, 10 billion roubles
The by-pass motorway will connect the city’s major commercial port with the St. Petersburg Ring Road in the south and with the Scandinavia motorway to Finland in the north. The new road will form an integral part of Pan-European Transport Corridor IX linking Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and the cities of southern Europe.
The EBRD’s 12-year loan will contribute to financing the 11.7 km central section of the WHSD, whose total length will be 46 km. A large part of the central section of the by-pass will be built over water, requiring significant engineering expertise and the construction of bridges and flyovers, as well as one tunnel.
Once the EBRD-funded central section and two further sections to the north and south have been completed, haulage trucks will for the first time gain direct access to the seaport of St. Petersburg, minimising the need to drive through residential areas. The port is the main cargo transport hub for northwest Russia. Its development is currently hindered by chronic traffic congestion in a densely populated surrounding area.
The WHSD is expected to divert transit traffic, particularly trucks, from the overloaded streets and bridges of St. Petersburg, Europe’s fourth largest city after Moscow, London, and Paris, where traffic intensity has already reached critical levels. Traffic on new highway could eventually grow to 140,000 vehicles a day, according to some estimates.
The project is expected to reduce noise and atmospheric pollution and thus improve the quality of life for the city’s 4.6 million people. Carbon dioxide emissions alone will be cut by some 50,000 tonnes a year, according to preliminary estimates.
The WHSD’s central section is being built within the framework of a Private-Public Partnership (PPP), the first road project to be thus structured outside of Moscow. The project’s environmental mitigation standards are in line with EBRD requirements and this also applies to the public consultation process.
In August 2011, the Northern Capital Highway consortium won a city tender for construction of the central section of the WHSD. Joint Stock Company WHSD is the overall contractor for the project.
The EBRD is also an anchor investor in another major infrastructure PPP project in St. Petersburg, the reconstruction and modernisation of the city’s Pulkovo airport, signed in April 2010.