The roads in the Baikal region are closely connected with the history of Russia, first of all with the exploration of Siberia, the Baikal region, the Amur region and the Far East, and also with the development of international relations, first of all with China, Mongolia and Tibet. First the roads were pedestrian and equestrian, and only at the end of the XVIIIth and during the XIXth century they were rebuilt and became more or less civilized. We have already told you about the history of country roads (see the chapter “Routes…”) or will tell you more in the chapter about how Poles constructed the Baikal cartage road. So now I will say just a few words about the “descendants” of these roads.
Asphalted automobile and ground roads are the most widespread ones (except water ways) in the Baikal region. Their total stretch (along the shore of the lake) is composed of the following segments:
Kultuk – Posolsk: about 250 km, mostly asphalted.
Posolsk – Zarechye (with the bridge over River Selenga built in 2008): about 110 km, asphalted, occulted with a dirt one.
Gremyachinsk – Ust-Barguzin: about 130 km, mostly asphalted;
Ust-Barguzin – Kurbulin (on the shores of the Barguzin and Chivyrkuisky Bays): more than 30 km, dirt.
Nizhneangarsk – village Baikalskoe: about 70 km, asphalted and dirt.
Urochje Kochernikov – the Mukhur Bay: 100 km, dirt, very hard for riding, streches along the western shore in the region of the Small Sea and further to the north-east.
Thus, cars driveway is possible over 690 km out of 2000 km of the Baikal shores, i. e. only one third of the shoreline. Besides, there are some places where there are auto roads, they are the village of Listvznka, the village of Bolshoe Goloustnoe, the village of Buguldeyka, and the village of Sakhurta; they all are situated on the western shore of the Baikal. There is a seperate road to the Olkhon Island; it goes from the ferry to the Khoboy Cape and the village of Uzury, and is more than 70 km long.
If we compare roads of the XVII – XIXth centuries with those of the end of the XXth century and the beginning of the XXI century, we can say that they do not differ much. It was a real torment to drive the roads in the past; it is the same with the modern ones, no matter how great the scientific and technical progress is. A.P. Chekhov when on a trip to Sakhalin in 1890 saw how awful the roads were, and he wrote about them in his essay: “They say that there people who live in the towns and villages of Siberia and get wages for the roads rebuilding. If it is true, we should pay them more not to do this rebuilding, as it makes things still worse” [335, p. 26]. These words can be repeated when we speak about some modern road experts and different organizations that provide them with money. Only God knows how much money is dug under the asphalt of these roads and how much money was spent to pay salary to such experts.
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