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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wider Leningradsky to Ease Traffic Flow

In three years, the often-grueling drive from the Kremlin to Sheremetyevo Airport will become a lot smoother.

A planned $2 billion reconstruction is to streamline one of the city's most important arteries, running from Tverskaya Ulitsa to Leningradskoye Shosse via Leningradsky Prospekt.

The revamp includes the removal of most of the route's traffic lights and tramlines, and the widening of Leningradsky Prospekt to eight lanes of traffic in each direction.

But not everyone is happy with the plan, however.

While Leningradsky Prospekt's reconstruction is likely to bring short-term pain to the city's motorists as parts of the road are carved up by contractor Mosinzhproyekt, some local residents fear they will lose their tram route forever and held a protest last weekend.

Meanwhile, residents of Tverskaya Ulitsa have voiced their opposition to plans to rip up the park in front of the Pushkinsky cinema to upgrade the road and build an underground shopping center, saying that the work could damage the foundations of their buildings.

Others, however, have plenty to gain.

In addition to 57 billion rubles ($2 billion) worth of contracts promised by Mayor Yury Luzhkov at a presentation in late January, the project will produce hundreds of thousands of square meters of prime retail and parking space in developments beneath the squares along the route.

The square in front of Belorussky Station will gain 112,000 square meters of retail and parking, while a mall under Pushkin Square will provide 96,500 square meters. Triumfalnaya Ploshchad by the Mayakovskaya metro station will also experience a facelift after a 510-space parking lot is built below the surface.

At the presentation, the mayor said half the funds would come from private investors -- for example, the company building the Pushkin Square center is to pay for the underpasses that will link the Boulevard Ring under Tverskaya at the site.

And the upgrade to the road itself may increase the accessibility of the area, boosting real estate prices.

Besides expanding Leningradsky Prospekt to eight lanes in each direction -- up from as few as three each way at the road's narrowest point -- the project will leave only two sets of traffic lights along the thoroughfare.

One is near the State Duma at the end of Tverskaya, and the other where Leningradsky Prospekt meets Ulitsa Pravdy, which has historic importance, as the lights were installed to provide quick delivery of the Pravda newspaper from the printing presses to the Kremlin.

David Brodersen, managing director of Noble Gibbons, said that the improvements would not only make future redevelopment sites more valuable, but also increase the value of the many Class A office and hotel properties in the area, helping it maintain an edge over other up-and-coming locations.

"Direct rail to the airports from Moskva-City and Paveletskaya as well as the success of Krylatsky Hills have raised the bar for the Leningradsky Shosse corridor," he said.

But before the city can reap the benefits, it will have to face down those opposed to the project.

Muscovites for Trams is running a campaign to convince the city of the superiority of public transport, pushing the claim that one tram line can carry as many passengers as 10 car lanes. On Saturday, more than 100 people attended a pro-tram rally near the Sokol metro station, organizers said.

And residents along Tverskaya Ulitsa do not appear likely to agree to the plans to dig up Pushkin Square.

In January at a meeting with the leadership of the district, residents of voted unanimously against the plan to build tunnels and a shopping center beneath the square, Gazeta.ru reported.

They said they feared the city's search for ever more shops and roads would damage their buildings and threaten one of the city's few green spaces and its statue of Alexander Pushkin.