R297 highway (Russia)

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M58 marker


Federal Highway M58
Федеральная автомобильная дорога M58
Amur Highway
Route information
Part of
Length: 2,100 km (1,300 mi)
Major junctions
West end: Chita
East end: Khabarovsk
Highway system
Russian Federal Highways

The Russian route R297 or the Amur Highway (named so after the nearby Amur River) is a federal highway in Russia, part of the Trans-Siberian Highway. With a length of 2100 km it is the longest segment, from Chita to Khabarovsk, connecting the paved roads of Siberia with those of the Russian Far East.[1] The construction of the road united the Russian federal highways into a single system, stretching from Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok.

The most problematic stretch of the highway lies between Chita and Khabarovsk. The first section of this route, linking Belogorsk to Blagoveshchensk (124 km in length), was constructed by gulag inmates as early as 1949. Extended and updated between 1998 and 2001, this road forms part of the Asian route AH31 connecting Belogorsk to Dalian in China.

The section of the Chita–Khabarovsk road known as the Zilov Gap remained largely unfinished and was known during semiannual mud seasons to be notoriously difficult to traverse. During the last week of May and the first three weeks of June in 2004 Jim Oliver and Dennis ONeil rode motorcycles across Russia, along the Trans-Siberian Highway. As described in Jim Oliver's book, Lucille and The XXX Road, the section between Chita and Khabarovsk was an extremely challenging undertaking. Jim writes about the massive marsh, gravel, rock, mud, sand, washboard, pot-holes, stream fording, and detours of the elusive highway with a noticeable absence of pavement. Many motorcyclists have been injured or killed trying to "master" the Amur Highway.

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promotes the Lada Kalina brand by driving through the recently opened Amur Highway in 2010

In early 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin symbolically opened the Amur Highway, with great swaths of forest separating major portions from one another. The St. Petersburg Times reported in September 2010 that paving of the highway had been completed. At a videoconference marking the event, Putin described it as "a dependable, modern farm road, but not the Autobahn". Today, the Chita–Khabarovsk road is a modern paved highway with painted reflective lane-lines.

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