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    TRANSPORTATION MINISTRY TO SUBMIT DRAFT LAW ON TOLL ROADS TO GOVERNMENT IN OCTOBER 2004

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    MOSCOW, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - The bill on toll roads will be submitted by the Transportation Ministry to the government in October 2004, Deputy Minister Alexander Misharin said at a press conference on Thursday.

    He stressed that the list and number of toll roads are defined in the federal target program. First of all, construction of sections of toll roads Moscow-St.Petersburg, a section of Minsk-bound direction are planned. "The business plan of such roads' construction is being worked out now," said Mr. Misharin.

    He noted that by December this year, the Transportation Ministry will have the engineering draft of construction of the first 100 kilometers of the Moscow-St.Petersburg road. "The aim of building toll roads is attraction of investments for further development of Russia's highway sector," Mr. Misharin said. He noted that toll roads will be built only on those sections where the intensity of the traffic is some 25,000-30,000 vehicles. In Mr. Misharin's words, at the first stage the roads will not be paid for. This practice will be introduced later.

    In Mr. Misharin's words, the project's payback time is 20 years. "Both Russian and foreign investors will be attracted to the construction of toll roads. These roads will be repaid mainly at the expense of trucks, which make 60-80% of the whole traffic. The state will allocate money only after the Transportation Ministry substantiates the business plan and submits the engineering draft of the construction of first toll roads," said Mr. Misharin.

    In his words, the beginning of the project's realization is next year, while the term to realize it is 5 years. Toll roads will remain in state property.

    As for fees to be paid for such roads, Mr. Misharin said the cost will be 1 ruble for 1 kilometer.

    After the toll road law enters into force, and this system is introduced, the taxpayer will pay less for maintenance and construction of highways than now. "He [the taxpayer] will pay less than now. Now the taxpayer pays 100% for construction of roads, and the budget does not have the necessary means to create normal routes," he said.

    The deputy minister said the main aim of the toll road law is creation of conditions for attraction of investments into the network of alternative toll roads.

    "These will be good quality roads with good covering. If a person does not want to pay for using this road, he/she can choose an old free route," he said.

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