New brick roads prove black hole for city budget

City Hall is planning to splash-out an extra three million rubles on its controversial pavement revamp.

The money will be used to control the quality of the brick-laying. Builders had to start again from scratch on several sidewalks after the authorities were unhappy with their work.

The project has already cost Moscow 2 billion rubles. Brick-laying was stopped across the city last week. Reports suggested that the builders had run out of bricks.

Moscow’s mayor, however, says there is no brick shortage and accuses the project of being conducted too slowly, as it was meant to be complete by September in time for the start of the school year.

The brick-laying will now be resumed in 2012.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that instead of bricks, workers were paving streets with concrete disguised as grey pieces of stone. Moscow authoritesl said these workers will be fired.

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.

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