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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Underpass Construction Snarls City Center Traffic

Moscow city authorities plan to improve traffic congestion by building at least six underground pedestrian crossings around the city's Garden Ring.

But the improvement comes at a price: the serious traffic delays that began this week are to continue for several months while work on the underpasses is completed.

The construction of the first of the new set of underground pedestrian crossings has already begun on the intersection of the Garden Ring and Ulitsa Malaya Dmitrovka, causing the closure of the left turn from 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ulitsa onto the Garden Ring.

The massive diversion of traffic immediately caused jams almost all along the outer lane of the Garden Ring, with some motorists enduring delays of up to two hours.

"Not much can be done to improve the situation, I'm afraid," Alexander Mantsevich, a spokesman for the Moscow branch of the State Automobile Inspectorate, or GAI, said Wednesday. "And anyway, the current volume of traffic going through the Garden Ring is 130 percent of its expected maximum volume, and still cars are moving. I'm sure they will continue moving during the construction, too," he added.

According to Mantsevich, traffic restrictions are likely to last at least for the whole summer.

"There will be more [diversions] in the near future, but the most we can do is try to make sure that the traffic diversions are separated by a considerable distance from each other so as not to completely stop the traffic," Mantsevich said.

City authorities hope that by building underpasses they will be able to dispense with many of the traffic lights that currently impede the movement of traffic around the ring.

Mantsevich also said it is not entirely up to the GAI to decide which parts of the Garden Ring will be closed and when. "We are waiting for the city authorities to come up with the next location where an underground pedestrian crossings will be built."

Mantsevich said the likely locations are Krasniye Vorota, Zubovskaya Ploshchad, Zemlyanoi Val and Ploshchad Vosstaniya.