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Official Says Rate of Road Construction Extremely Slow

It will take 1,000 years to build a decent road network at current rates of construction, a top official has said.

"The program to modernize the transportation system says we have to build on the order of half a million roads for common use," Regional Development Minister Igor Slunyayev said Friday. "But the dynamics and rate of construction show that at 500 kilometers annually we will finish the task in about 1,000 years."

Slunyayev was speaking during a Cabinet session on transportation development chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 

The prime minister expressed concern about the domestic aircraft manufacturing industry during the same meeting.

State-owned airlines, the Defense Ministry and other government-owned aircraft operators will buy foreign planes if domestic plane builders are unable to provide competitive products, Medvedev said.

"Our producers should feel foreigners breathing down their necks. Otherwise nothing will happen," he said. "Other major aviation powers — in the United States and Europe — still buy foreign-made aircraft so their own industry evolves. We need to do everything to ensure the right level of competitiveness in our aviation industry," he said.

Russia will add 100 new runways at airports around the country in the next seven years as part of a massive expansion of transportation infrastructure, Medvedev said.

Medvedev also set targets for upping cargo capacity at the country's seaports by 356 million tons, rebuilding 14,000 kilometers of roads and extending the country's railways by 2,500 kilometers by 2020.

Priority will be given to developing transportation links to remote communities in the more far-flung parts of the country.

"Access to transportation must be universal, and this access must be extended to the whole country. And, of course, to a large extent to develop Siberia and the Far East, as more distant and in this sense cut-off parts of our country," he said.

Medvedev ordered the government to rework the Program for Transportation Development of the Russian Federation to 2020 and present it to him again by Dec. 10.

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