Georgian Military Road Re-Opens – Spain Carjackings

NEWS: the storied Georgian Military Road re-opens after a huge landslide last month, plus a spate of distractions robberies on British drivers in Spain.

NOTE: Public Holiday, Spain and Portugal.

TRAFFIC: back to work Monday. Not too bad so far though the bigger delays seemed to have switched to the southbound A7 at the Elbtunnel in Hamburg though latterly they have cleared and it’s back to ‘normal’.

GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: n/a.

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SPAIN CARJACKINGS: most of the 612 emergency travel documents issued to Britons in Spain this year have been as the result of distraction robberies on highways says the Daily Mail today. Particularly targeted are the AP7 from the French border to Valencia, and the roads between Santander port in the north, Madrid and resorts in the south. Assailants flag down drivers, sometimes forcefully and sometimes pretending to be police officers, engage drivers in a discussion about an alleged fault or damage to either vehicle while valuables are stolen by an unseen accomplice. The Foreign Office says even unmarked police cars will have a flashing electronic sign in the rear window and normally blue lights. Read their latest advice here or see the video below:

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GEORGIAN MILITARY ROAD RE-OPENS

Epic trans-Caucasian mountain road back in action.

The historic Georgian Military Road has reopened after a huge landslide last month.

A ‘mountainside collapse’ on Saturday 17 May, originating at the Devdoraki glacier on the northeastern slope of Mount Kazbek, saw mud and debris flow down to the Dariali Gorge, along which flows the Tergi River and, beside, the Georgian Military Road. Access to the Kazbegi-Larsi border crossing between Georgia and Russia has been blocked since.

One man, a truck driver from Ukrane, was killed and three others seriously injured. Blame initially fell on building work at the Dariali Hydroeelctric Plant though officials say tunnels from the project actually helped prevent an even worse disaster.

Though the road (red, above) is now passable, and open to all types of vehicle, the surface is temporary and access is limited.

The Kazbegi-Larsi border station Georgia-Russia in the Dariali Gorge at the top of the E117 Georgian Military Road.

The Kazbegi-Larsi border station Georgia-Russia in the Dariali Gorge at the top of the E117 Georgian Military Road.

Strictly speaking it is no longer correct to call it the Georgian Military Road (or Highway). These days it goes by the more prosaic title of S-3, or European Route E117 which runs from Mineralnye Vody in south west Russia via Tbilisi and Armenian capital Yerevan to Meghri on the Iran border, 1050km in all.

The stretch formerly known as the Georgian Military Road was first paved in 1799, shortly before the Kingdom of Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire. It runs 208km north-south between Tbilisi, Georgia, and Valdikavkaz, North Ossetia, reaching a high point of 2379m (7,815ft) at the Jvari Pass.

By the Stalin era it was marketed as a tourist route to rival the best roads in the West (and known as the ‘Russian Simplon’). It’s one of three famous roads across the Caucasus Mountains, the others being the Ossetian Military Road between Kutaisi and Alagir (green, above) – via the 2911m (9,950ft) Mamison Pass – and the ‘Transkam’ Transcaucasian Highway (yellow, above) connecting North and South Ossetia via the Roki Tunnel.

Partial repro of ‘Georgian Military Highway’ by Aleksandr Zhitomirsky, 1939.

Partial repro of ‘Georgian Military Highway’ by Aleksandr Zhitomirsky, 1939.

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