Plan for new road link

By Becca Wilkins06 March 2008

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping Mongolia to fund a road project which aims to link the nation's western region with China and Russia, the ADB said in a statement.

At an estimated cost of just under US$ 200 million, the Western Regional Road Corridor Development Project will span nearly 750 km and become part of the Asian Highway Network - a 141000 km road system traversing 32 Asian countries with links to European roadways.

In the statement, Lakshman Athukorala, a financial analysis specialist of ADB's East Asia Department said, “This major infrastructure project will lead to broad economic growth and reduce geographic isolation for the communities along its route.”

He added the road corridor will link markets and improve travel conditions, giving residents easier, less expensive, and faster access to social, health, and other services.

The statement said the project, which will be implemented in two phases, will also help Mongolia's economic growth through increases in tourism by opening the Altai region, one of the few ecologically unchanged sites left in the world.

The ADB said it is offering a US$ 37.6 million grant to Mongolia in the first phase of the project, with the government allocating US$ 74.62 million.

The first phase covers 431.2 km road from the border of China to the Hovd province in western Mongolia with construction starting in 2009 and completion set for 2012.

The second phase, which is expected to begin in December 2010, will include construction of a 317.2 km road from the provincial centre of Hovd to the Russian border, according to the ADB statement.

It added current estimates put the cost of the second phase around US$ 87 million.

The geographic location of Mongolia, far from the sea and surrounded by China and Russia, makes road transportation links significant in terms of domestic and international trade, the statement said.

However, it added, out of the total road network of 49250 km, only 3.5 % is paved.

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