M56 Lena Highway
or The Amur-Yakutsk Highway
(Амуро-Якутская автомобильная дорога or Амуро-Якутская автомагистраль) – a federal highway
(road) in the Sakha Republic
, connecting Yakutsk
with the south. It takes its name from the mighty Lena River
that runs more or less north-south in this part of Siberia
. Actually, with Yakutsk situated entirely on the west bank of Lena, and the road running on the east bank, the highway terminates in Nizhny Bestyakh
(Нижний Бестях), a settlement of 4,000 people opposite Yakutsk on the east bank of Lena. When river conditions permit, one may drive right over the frozen river to Yakutsk, or take the ferry, but much of the year the river is impassable due to flooding or ice floes or semi-thawed ice not supporting the weight of vehicles. There is no bridge over the Lena anywhere in Yakutia. One is meant to be built south of Yakutsk center between 2009 and 2013, a dual-use railroad/road span of some in length.
The road runs south to Newer. It was built in stages between 1925 and 1964. Although it is a federal highway, it is just a dirt road. When frozen in the winter, this makes for an excellent surface, and the posted speed limit is . However, in the summer, with any significant rain, the road turns to impassible mud that often swallows whole smaller vehicles.
At Nizhny Bestyakh, Lena Highway connects to Kolyma Highway (The Road of Bones), also designated M56, linking Yakutsk with Magadan to the east, on the Pacific Ocean seacoast.