Estonian minister seeks extra €1.5b over 15 years for road construction
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kristen Michal wants to invest an additional 1.5 billion euros in road construction in Estonia over the next 15 years, aiming to turn all of the country's major roads into four-lane highways.
According to Michal, he will soon submit to the government a proposal to initiate discussion on increasing road construction funding by about 1.5 billion euros over the next 15 years. "This means that each year, an additional 100-130 million euros would be poured into road construction," explained the minister in a letter to other ministers, adding that this would provide the country with the opportunity to more ambitiously build up the country's connections.
Although Estonia already has a road management plan through 2020 and is set to launch its largest-ever road construction project — the expansion of the Kose-Mäo section of the Tallinn-Tartu Highway into a four-laner — next year, Michal found that they could dream bigger. "We could set our sights on all the major roads — those connecting Tallinn with Tartu, Pärnu and Narva — having four lanes throughout," he offered.
Such expansions would directly improve Estonians' quality of life, improve traffic safety, give a boost to the economy and increase regions' competitiveness, noted Michal.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has mapped out a more detailed plan for the period until 2035 which foresees a financial scheme for expanding the roads from Tallinn to Tartu, Pärnu and Narva to four lanes. Michal proposed earmarking additional funds for infrastructure investments no later than in the budget strategy discussions to be held in spring 2017, as in that case the reconstruction of the 15-kilometer stretch of the Tartu highway between the villages of Võõbu and Mäo into a four-laner could begin a year ahead of schedule, in 2018.
Next year's largest infrastructure project will be the widening of the Kose-Mäo stretch of Tallinn-Tartu Highway to four lanes. The ministry has previously stated that work on designing the four-lane road is already underway and that construction is slated to begin next summer. The expansion of this stretch of the highway is to be completed in 2022 at a cost of 170 million euros.