Central Asian Great Roads
The "Great Road" (InterTurkic: Uluq Yol) system of Central Asia is the principal highway network of the region. The network is similar in concept to the American Trans-Continental Highway system: a network of major arterial roads, many of which cross international boundaries. In the former Snorist bloc, designated Great Roads had special highway code rules to facilitate the movement of traffic, especially military traffic, and most of these rules persist in the post-Snorist world.
Great Road special rules
The special rules applying to designated Great Roads are as follows:
- No stopping of vehicles except in emergencies.
- No maximum speed limit.
- Priority to be given to military vehicles. If a military vehicle of any kind is coming up behind you to overtake, you are required to pull over so that the military vehicle may pass. (Post-SNOR Great Roads in Persia and the MNR sometimes do not have this rule).
- Large articulated lorries and juggernauts are prohibited from using the inner, "fast" lane, in multiple-carriageway areas. (This rule was and is often more honoured in the breach than in the observance).
- In the Snorist era, there were frequently checkpoints established at many of the network's crucial on/off junctions. Most of these except for the border control points have been removed.
Designated Great Roads are marked in the more settled and civilised parts of Central Asia with red-painted solid lines along the edges of the road. Traffic lanes are separated by white dashed lines, and breaks between traffic lanes moving in opposite directions are shown by a single red dashed line (on single-carriageway stretches) or by a solid red line (on divided multiple-carriageway stretches). On undivided multiple-carriageway stretches of Great Road and single-carriageway areas where overtaking is restricted, a double line is used to separate the different traffic flows. This may be solid, broken, or a combination (one solid, one dashed). A solid line indicated that overtaking is prohibited from that side of the road.
The red edge striping (as opposed to yellow for regular highways) also informs the driver that Great Road rules are in force. (see above).
Creation of the network
The Great Roads of Central Asia began in early 1970s as an outgrowth of the Russian Imperial Highway network. The White Council under Yevgeni Lipov and Pyotr Popovich saw the expansion of the Imperial Highway system as a way of increasing their control and influence in their client states. It also allowed them to move their military units around more easily in the farther reaches of their sphere of influence.
The first Great Road was laid in 1971, running through Qazaqstan from Celinograd southwards to Buxara, and on to Qarşı in southern Üzbekistan Province. Other Great Roads followed this one in Uyguristan, Mongolia and other parts of Turkestan. Most of the current network was built during the 1970s and the early 1980s.
During the Russian occupation of the Moghul National Realm, construction work was begun on extending the first Great Road from Tärmäz southwards to the MNR city of Kabul, but the military realities of the situation meant that the work had to be abandoned. Russian military engineers had finished the road through Mazar-e-Sharif and two thirds of the way to Kabul when the worsening military situation forced them to abandon the work.
Following the Russian withdrawal from the MNR and the subsequent collapse of the SNOR, the new diplomatic situation and re-alignment of the Central Asian states allowed the Great Road network to be expanded in directions that the White Council could never have foreseen.
The first expansion of the Great Road system in the post-SNOR period was into Persia. In 1994, with a cease-fire finally holding in Qaşgar, the Turkestani and Persian governments agreed to jointly construct a connecting road between Aşğabat in Turcomanistan and Quçan in Persia, where it would meet one of the smaller arterial highways of northern Persia. The Persian highway, which was of highway quality, but only of single carriageway, has since been upgraded to a full dual-carriageway Great Road.
The extension of the Great Road in the Moghul National Realm was finally completed as far as Kabul in 1997, and extended to Qandahar by 1999. Another Great Road was opened between Merv, Turkestan and Herat, MNR in 2004, and the link from Herat to Qandahar was finished the following year. Another Great Road heading south from Qandahar is currently under construction.
Since the fall of the SNOR the priority for military vehicles rule of the Great Roads has come under increasing attack, especially in Turkestan. The increasing number of civilian road users point out that most household cars, even Yoltaıs, travel faster on average than most tanks and military transport vehicles, and that the priority rule is slowing down road travel and causing the roads to become congested. Proponents of the rule (mostly government spokespeople and military personnel) respond that the rule is necessary to maintaining proper national security, and that the ability to freely transport troops around the country is essential for maintaining combat readiness in personnel and equipment.