ALAG-ERDENE, KHUVSGUL PROVINCE, MONGOLIA — Munkhbaatar Tumur mounts a scope on a metal tripod and peers through it. He assesses the elevation of a road that stretches across the steppe and into the mountains.
He is a general engineer at Khuvsgul-AZZA, a state-owned corporation responsible for maintaining the roads in this northernmost province, on the border with Russia. Today, he and his team are repairing bulging and sunken asphalt along the road, which stretches more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) up to Khuvsgul Lake.
“Subsidence occurred due to permafrost here in this section,” Munkhbaatar says. To repair the road, the team fills in potholes and levels uneven areas, then covers the repairs with a cement-concrete composite.
Repair teams have been busy across the country. Since Mongolia’s transition to democracy and a market economy in the 1990s, the government has made road construction the backbone of its regional development…