Commute from Hell: Russian Drivers Endure 125-Mile Long, 3-Day Traffic Jam

Snow wasn't the only thing that accumulated in Russia's capital city last week.

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John MacDougall / AFP / Getty Images

Cars are blocked in a traffic jam in the center of Moscow on February 29, 2012.

Snow wasn’t the only thing that accumulated in Russia’s capital last week. Following what Moscow officials called the heaviest November snowstorm the city has experienced in 50 years — which dumped up to three feet of snow on the area — cars began to pile up on the country’s Highway M-10 on Friday night.

RIA Novosti reported that by Sunday afternoon, a 125-mile long queue of vehicles spanned the roadway, which connects Moscow and St. Petersburg. Traffic moved at a stop-and-go pace, with the main obstruction centered about 30 miles northwest of Tver, less than a quarter of the distance between the two cities.

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Drivers stranded by the three-day-long traffic jam complained that authorities weren’t offering enough assistance and that businesses close to the highway were taking advantage of them. Restaurants reportedly increased their prices, and gas stations ran out of fuel, according to social networking site Vkontakte and a Tver news website.

The Emergencies Ministry soon arrived on the scene to distribute food and set up warming stations, RIA Novosti reported. The division also established a support hotline to help distressed individuals deal with the standstill. Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov took a helicopter tour of Tver, Leningrad and Novgorod, which were the most impeded areas.

“[Puchkov] is making sure that all necessary measures are being taken and that all vital personnel in afflicted regions have everything they need, particularly for the warming stations and hot food distribution along the highway,” a spokesperson for the Emergencies Ministry told RIA Novosti.

Although the Emergencies Ministry told the masses that “normalization” in transportation would occur by 6 p.m. on Sunday, the jam still spanned 34 miles that night. Traffic only started to clear early Monday.

“One lane in each direction is clear of snow,” a spokesperson from the State Automobile Inspectorate — a department in Russia’s Interior Ministry — told RIA Novosti. “Trucks are moving at roughly 5-10 kilometers per hour (3-6 mph).”

Motorists stuck in this weekend’s jam may have suffered, but the gridlock pales in comparison to other traffic congestion in the past. In 2010, drivers in China spent more than 10 days waiting for a 60-mile blockage to clear near Beijing. Reuters reported that cars in San Paulo, Brazil stretched 183 miles — the city’s longest traffic stoppage — during an evening rush in 2009.

MORE: Google Maps Gets Drivers Out of Jams with Up-to-Date Traffic Info

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BertWalker
BertWalker

What has been learned in the course of this, so that it could be better-handled next time?