The Union of Harju County Municipalities has proposed replacing the plan to expand Estonia's major highways to four-lane (2+2) roads with less expensive three-lane (2+1) roads in combination with the development of high-speed, 160 km/h railroad connections on the Tallinn-Tartu and Tallinn-Narva routes and the construction of a ring railroad around the capital city.
The need for a high-speed rail connection with Pärnu will be fulfilled by the future Rail Baltica, which is why the union did not include this need among its proposals.
According to the union, the development of roads and railroads needs to be approached comprehensively, as fast and convenient rail connections will help reduce congestion and increase road safety on existing highways in all three major directions.
In its proposals regarding the state's new road management plan for the years 2020-2023, the Union of Harju County Municipalities notes that I class (2+2) highways don't help reduce drive times, as speed limits are reduced to 90 km/h for much of the year due to weather conditions alone. Thus 2+2 roads would not provide any positive output in terms of the reduction of motorization anyway.
It is also noted that 2+2 highways require as much as three to four times more land than railroads, speak nothing of their significantly larger barrier effects.
Railroads likewise offer better opportunities for cargo transport, which would help reduce the amount of heavy duty vehicles on highways. This reduction, in turn, would help reduce the amount of annual needed road maintenance funding, freeing up funding to be directed toward the improvements in the safety and condition of other roads in worse shape.
The Union of Harju County Municipalities also highlighted that since the introduction of the new passenger trains in Estonia, train ridership has more than doubled both within Harju County and throughout Estonia.
Editor: Aili Vahtla