Originally Posted by Tseta
I believe that the info quoted above may not be completely accurate. Some gravel/sand sections do still exist on the Transsib proper. At least during the summer of 2012, the following was seen somewhere around Alzamay:
For the sake of the argument, I will admit that this was the view to the actual construction area of the main M53 highway, but the detour around this was a very bumpy and dusty gravel road as well, far from wide, silky smooth asphalt.
OK yes, sure - there are a few 2-3 km stretches and maybe one 20 km stretch where they are replacing the old highway with new stretches through the forest between Alzamai and Tulun, and while they do that they are temporary gravel detours that all Trans Siberian traffic takes.
That is the M53, about 2000 km away from the Zilov Gap. If we are going to list all stretches of the Trans sib where you have to take gravel detours, I recall a few roadworks sections around Ishim as well, about 3000 km further west. There are also a few sections of gravel detours 4000 km further east down the highway from your pic between Khabarovsk and Vladivostok where they are also rebuilding the road.
In any case all detours are small, temporary, being worked on, and are fine for the hundreds / thousands of cheap Korean / Japanese / Russian 2wd sedans and hatches and hundreds / thousands more normal road going 40 ton freight trucks that use them every day.
On this basis we can probably safely say that the 10,000 km long trans sib will never be all asphalt, as there will always be some sections being rebuilt; there will always be some bridges that need replacing etc, where there will be gravel detours.
Getting back to the original point, the Zilov Gap prior to 2004 was 800 km of no road that could only be traversed in 6wd trucks, or 110 kg off road motorcycles. In 2004, once the gravel road was completed, the entire Trans Siberian highway was ridden by a trio of Honda GoldWings.