The renovations made on the eve of the city’s birthday were both surprising and challenging for Muscovites. The changes undertaken were huge, expensive and comprehensive, in spite of the present financial crisis.
In some neighborhoods, where technical work was undertaken at the same time as the installation of asphalt driveways, workers were given no breaks or days off, and on some occasions technical work began as early as 3 or 5 am.
Despite the undeniable backlash this project has caused, some legendary squares and streets have been transformed into something totally new and European-looking.
It is clean, and renovations are complete, with the exception of the apple and lime trees that will be planted there later this month.
Pyatnitskaya Street was one of the first areas targeted for renovations. Its new vehicle routes welcome city dwellers with more space for comfortable commuting.
The first of the so-called ‘cozy-zones’ for citizens has been setup almost directly in the city center, which unfortunately looks uninviting for a weekend stroll. Its safety for cyclists has not yet been established.
The Rizhskaya Square renovation project truly encapsulates the ambition of the city administration to change the city urban neighborhoods beyond recognition, even when the changes don’t appear to be necessary. Plans were implemented to transform the street’s market center into a walking square, which led to tens of kiosks and cafes being closed, one after the other.
Although no new area has been set aside for the market sellers, the strange choice has been made to allocate space to Japanese vending machines. Construction work is still ongoing; the long-established Russian tradition of starting late and working quickly does not always lead to success.
On a more positive note, the monument to the creators of the first Sputnik finally emerged to the public view, and no longer looks dirty and clumsy.