Brick shortage causes mayor to give up sidewalk “treasure hunt”

With half the sidewalks in Moscow already ripped up, the city has now run out of bricks.

The new sidewalks were meant to be ready by the autumn, but brick manufacturers say they cannot keep up with demand.

It has also emerged that City Hall is unhappy with the quality of the work. In some parts of the city, builders have had to start from scratch.

The mayor’s sidewalk renovation project has become the butt of numerous jokes among Muscovites. According to one, the project is a cover up for gold digging. As the story goes, ex-mayor Yury Luzhkov told his successor, Sergey Sobyanin, that there is some treasure hidden under the sidewalk somewhere in Moscow.

The idea behind the makeover was to replace over 1 million square meters of asphalt on city streets with pavement bricks. The bricks are identical to those used to pave Arbat Prospekt and Kutuzovsky Prospekt.

Contractors say the quality of the material far exceeds that of asphalt. It is designed to be used for some 20 years and can easily be removed during subsequent renovations.

The initiative is part of Moscow’s program to make the city more appealing to tourists.

Apart from new bricks, renovations include a tourist call center, a new dedicated internet site, and a convenient system of navigation around the city.

Among other measures are additional parking lots for tourist buses, a new classification system for the capital’s hotels, new attractions and bicycle rentals in Moscow parks.

Officials are also going to launch a wide public relations campaign to present the variety of attractions in the Russian capital. They hope this can help re-brand the image of Moscow.

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