SIMFEROPOL/AKMESDZHIT (QHA) -

Residents of Crimea keeping track of the latest happenings on the peninsula are aware of the fact that the Simferopol-Feodosia highway has been under repair since July 2015.

The highway has taken on the status of ‘vitally important’ ever since Crimea’s annexation by Russia. However, few people know what lengths the residents of Eastern Crimea and Russia (taking a ferry across the Kerch Strait) have to go to reach their homes.

The news of traffic on the highway being limited was openly reported by the media outlets as far back as last month. However, all kinds of vehicles have been travelling up and down the highway ever since. A week ago, drivers and their passengers taking the highway had no notable problems standing in a traffic jam for 15 minutes. The situation reached the boiling point after vehicles headed from Simferopol to the Kerch ferry crossing ended up in a 2-hour traffic jam outside the village of Tsvetochnoye (the Belogorsky district) on Friday night, August 14, 2015.

The reason for the traffic jam was the said roadworks. Missing road markings and plastic-wrapped road signs preventing drivers from getting vital information further contributed to the problem. No wonder the condition the highway was in caused the traffic congestion to occur.

By 7.30 p.m., the highway’s four lanes, widened after repairs, had been filled with vehicles bound for Easter Crimea and Simferopol. The most ‘resourceful’ drivers were taking the fields on both sides of the highway to bypass the traffic jam.

Earlier on, the Crimean traffic department reported that a section of the highway would be closed to traffic for the duration of repairs. “To reach Feodosia, drivers had to take the Jankoy highway to the village of Oktyabrskoye, then turn right and pass through the Zhelyabovka, Nizhnegorskiy, Sovetsky and Kirovsky districts to get to their destination,” the department’s officials said.

However, the drivers of the trucks, buses and cars standing in the traffic jam seemed to have ignored the warning.

Passengers, taking 10 to 15 minutes to get from Tsvetochnoye to Belogorsk under moderate traffic conditions, had to wait 2 hours, with some starting to get panicky.

“The bus I’m on was supposed to take me to Krasnodar by 5 a.m. There I had to take a plane home departing at 9 a.m. I’m afraid I won’t make it at this rate,” a passenger named Tatyana said.

Other passengers were furious over the fact that Crimean radio stations were not airing regular bulletins on the highway’s condition.

The passengers also tried to imagine what it was like for holiday makers to reach their destinations in Eastern Crimea. “It’s grueling and sultry heat at daytime. How do expect Simferopol residents to go to their holiday destinations, such as Koktebel, Sudak and Kerch? If I had known there would be a traffic jam like this I would never have left home,” said another indignant passenger.

A lot of passengers joined the argument saying that “they simply had to wait until a new and fine highway was built”.

It is worth mentioning that some motorists, unwilling to wait until the traffic jam had cleared, turned their vehicles around and headed back. Some passengers, overwhelmed by the heat and dust, got out of their vehicles and camped out right in the middle of the highway.

Costing a total of 2 billion rubles, repairs of the Simferopol-Feodosia highway are scheduled to be completed by October 1, 2015.

QHA