“See what’s going on? And so every day …"
In response to the request of the editor-in-chief of the magazine, Peter Menshikh, to give an interview, the minister invited us to spend a working day with him. On one of Saturdays, Igor Evgenievich was scheduled a trip along the Yaroslavl highway. I wanted to get acquainted on the spot with how road works are going on the M8 highway, which needs urgent reconstruction. We went with him.
FIRST STOP. 10.00
Somehow, our bus gets to the construction site, where work is in full swing and on Saturday - they complete the multi-tier interchange in Mytishchi near Moscow. The meeting with the participation of the road workers takes place promptly, and we set off further along Yaroslavka.
“I see that from our conversation you understood what the main problem is today,” the minister begins. - Yes, yes - in the confusion, unsettled land relations! Here is an example - we urgently need to expand the bridge in Mytishchi so that the movement finally "goes", and the city, regional authorities and the federal center cannot decide whose land it is! It’s already fifteen years of the new Russia, and we still don’t know who the master of the earth is! And how, one wonders, to build roads? So today we are trying to restore order in these relations.
- How much time will you have to wait?
- Unfortunately, the government has not yet resolved a number of issues in land relations. Imagine - there is not even a single procedure for reservation of land for the development of transport infrastructure. But we’ve been talking about this for more than a year!
- But does the government have the will to solve the accumulated road problems?
- There is. And specifically with me, too. Now we are correcting the mistakes of others - we are completing modern interchanges in the Queen and Mytishchi. To do this as soon as possible - we remove people, equipment and tools from other objects. No other way. Today there is a many-hour traffic jam, and tomorrow there will generally be a "no-travel zone". For us, this road is now a priority.
“But why?” Still, there are no large cities here, more and more summer residents. It seems to me that there are more important directions - say, to St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov …
- We are engaged in those roads, but about the “unimportance” of Yaroslavka I will say only one thing: I do not agree! Here is the largest city near Moscow Mytishchi, here Pushkino, Korolev … More and more people are moving from the capital to the suburbs - this is a global trend. And Yaroslavka leads to Yaroslavl, Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Ivanovo, Kostroma, passes through Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov the Great … Here it is - the Golden Ring of Russia! Make a normal road - millions of tourists will go along it!
We have already changed (for the first time!) The structure of federal funds allocated for road repair and construction. Previously, 25% was spent on repairs and reconstruction, and since 2006 - already 50%. You must immediately "embroider" all the narrow sections on existing routes!
- But this also requires very high costs; road workers, I know, have always complained about a lack of funds. Maybe the huge Stabilization Fund, which was formed from the sale of oil, to put all the same on the roads? I want to ask you as a member of the government.
- The government transfers part of the funds from the Stabilization Fund to investment. The next year is 60 billion rubles. But if they told me now: “How much do you need from this fund - take as much, build a road” - I would not take it. Even with these billions, you will run into unresolved problems - the same confusing land relations, which means that you simply won’t be able to use this money efficiently and on time. At least two years pass from the decision of the government to the “first peg”. And six months - only to figure out whose land. I consider the lack of mechanisms for the implementation of decisions and decisions to be one of the main problems of the federal government. Unfortunately, not all issues resolved in the road sector are the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport. We suggested that the government transfer the powers of the state to regulate land and property relations relating to roads to our federal agencies. It doesn’t work out yet. As soon as we resolve the issue, we will move further and faster.
- Did your previous business experience come in handy in a new place?
- In business, I was “imprisoned” for the result. There is a goal - you need to find ways to achieve it. Now, while working in the ministry, I am trying to simplify those rules, remove those barriers that I have recently overcome and which prevented normal work. So far not everything works out - the state machine is turning very slowly, and time is running out. And those traffic jams that we see in which we stand are fatal.
IN MOVE. 11.00-12.00
Behind Pushkin, the track is becoming freer, and its quality is tolerable. Our bus moves at good speed towards the border of the Moscow and Vladimir regions, where a new section of the highway is being built.
- And with which ministry, Igor Evgenievich, is it easiest for you to work in the government?
- The easiest way is with the Ministry of Defense, because he served in the armed forces all his young years (laughs). So my soul is there … But seriously, most often I have to communicate with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. And if we want to achieve something, then only by combining our efforts with the MEDT.
- And with the Ministry of Internal Affairs? The most famous unit of this ministry, the GAI, works on your roads, and by the way, our fellow citizens have the most complaints about it …
- Since 2006, the federal target program for road safety will begin to operate. It is run by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of Transport is one of its members. Together we will decide how to reduce the accident rate in those places where today accidents are especially frequent. The structure of the STSI will change, and I hope it will reach the level of modern requirements. First of all, you need to better equip this service technically. Modern equipment should track and record violations of traffic rules, but numerous traffic police posts must be removed from the roads. Now, when developing toll road projects, we provide all the necessary technical equipment, radars and video cameras, and no posts. There should be duty crews of traffic police - and that’s it. One of our main claims to the traffic police is the excess of its representatives on the roads.
I believe that the state pays very little attention to road safety. The fact that 35 thousand people die on our roads a year and another 250 thousand are injured is terrible in itself, but if we take into account our demographic situation? The federal target program “Road Safety” is very good, but very few. Actually, I am a supporter of transferring it not to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but to the Ministry of Transport - we have more resources. The construction and maintenance of roads without regard to traffic safety is abnormal. I am sure that it is the Ministry of Transport that can and should comprehensively address these issues. So far, our offer has not been accepted. Let's see how the Ministry of Internal Affairs will cope with the implementation of this targeted federal program; in any case, we will actively help.
- It seems to me - and the magazine has been writing about this for a long time - that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the STSI took on some of the unusual functions. Why should the police deal with vehicle registration or vehicle inspection?
- We have already proposed to transfer to the Ministry of Transport technical control over the condition of vehicles. We have a developed network of transport inspections where specialists work. And the registration of road transport, too. But the Ministry of Internal Affairs, naturally, does not want to give these functions to anyone. It all depends on the will of the government. I hope we will solve this issue …
SECOND STOP. 12.10
We went around the old Sergiev Posad and drive along the M8 highway to the final destination of our route - the border of the Moscow region. Here the highway is already two-lane and stretches for twenty kilometers along the Vladimir region, then climbing up another steep hill, then going down to the lowland. This place is known for the fact that now and then there are huge traffic jams. And also - by local traffic cops who hide in the bushes and recklessly catch those who overtake a convoy of trucks slowly creeping up the lift along the "oncoming" road. Now, bypassing the old road, a new, high-speed section is being built rapidly. The first stretch is ready - an excellent quality four-lane highway with a dividing fence in the middle.
We get off the bus. Levitin inspects everything around:
- What a beauty! Both the road itself and the forest are nearby … If this happens everywhere, in good weather you can get here from Moscow in an hour. Imagine, the whole road to Yaroslavl may be of the 1st category! And when next year we will hand over the bridge across the Volga, bypassing the city, a through highway will open to Vologda itself …
- What do you have on this site? - This is the Minister is addressing the commander of the traffic police division, which serves the Yaroslavl highway.
- The main problem here, especially in winter, is multi-kilometer traffic jams. Will bring a truck on the slope - and that's it, the movement has become. Once, the holy Patriarch himself sat in traffic jam for several hours. I really need a bypass road!
- Can you find an investor for equity participation in the construction of this site? - The minister addresses the leaders of the road industry. “I think it can be paid for …”
“We are developing options, discussing the possible shares of the state and investors in the proposed project,” the road workers explain. - In order to attract companies, we want to offer them in one package several promising sections of the Kholmogory highway.
Levitin likes this option.
“This road can be made first-class,” he believes, “not once in the distant future, but already in one and a half to two years … Imagine, from Moscow to Yaroslavl in two and a half hours!” I am sure: as soon as the new road works, the infrastructure will appear around …
- Igor Evgenievich, and at least sometimes he manages to get behind the wheel?
- Only on Sunday. I drive a car with pleasure! So in Sochi I drove to the 21st Volga of our president - I really liked it (laughs). Good car, in excellent condition.
- Do you have your own car?
- Yes, Mercedes C-Class. For my small family, this is a very good car. And my first cars were two in a row VAZ 2104, which I remember with fondness. How many people traveled together, how many goods were transported, especially when he built a summer cottage in the suburbs, cannot be counted. The Four is my first love …
… Another workshop on the road is also short, and the minister is going back to the capital. Today he still has a scheduled meeting with Economic Development Minister German Gref, and at the very beginning of next week a working trip to several regions of Russia. On Thursday, as always, a government meeting, and on Friday to fly to Armenia and Georgia. And so - every day. Life is in motion.