40 km of Tallinn-Tartu highway to be widened to four lanes
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, work on widening Tallinn-Tartu Highway to four lanes between the villages of Kose and Mäo is underway and construction work will begin next summer.
The project plan is currently being prepared for a 25-kilometer stretch of the new road from Kose to Võõbu. When the plan is completed, a procurement tender to find the builder will be announced, likely sometime during the first half of next year. Construction on the project is expected to start during the second half of the year.
The Võõbu-Mäo stretch of the highway making up the remaining 15 kilometers of the road is currently being planned as well; the plans for the shorter of the two sections are expected to be complete by February 2017 and construction of that stretch is expected to begin in 2019. Before then, necessary land affected by the project must be acquired from its owners and the builder chosen in a procurement tender.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kristen Michal highlighted the fact that while this was a huge project, it is expected to save lives in the future. "The estimated socio-economic payback rate is 10 million [euros] per year and travel between the two biggest cities will become smoother and safer, which will have a positive impact on both the economy and the movement of people," he said.
The 40 kilometers of highway will be rebuilt into a 2+2 lane road. As a result of the widening of the highway, which is currently one lane in each direction, making it difficult to pass slowly-moving vehicles, as well as a planned adjustment to the road's route, the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa Highway will end up being 5.3 kilometers shorter than at present, meaning a shorter travel time by up to nine minutes.
Road fatality statistics show that the Kose-Mäo section of the road, just 20 percent of the total length of the Tallinn-Tartu Highway, accounts for half of all lives lost in car crashes along the entire highway.
Reconstruction of the Kose-Mäo section of road into a four-lane highway is to be completed in 2022 at a total cost of 170 million euros. Once this section of the road is complete, a total of 90 kilometers of the Tallinn-Tartu Highway, which makes up nearly half the distance between Estonia's two biggest cities, will be four lanes wide.