Coronavirus, weather and studded tires affect Tallinn roadworks

Roadworks in Tallinn.
Roadworks in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The mild winter and the effects of the coronavirus making Tallinn streets much quieter than usual has meant the annual spring street repair and cleaning work has started already. However, city authorities have already clashed with a state authority, the Road Administration (Maanteeamet), which has suggested drivers continue using studded winter tires into April due to a recent cold snap, accompanies by some snow. However, the City of Tallinn says such tires damage newly-laid asphalt, hindering its repair work, and generate a vast quantity of dust as the tires tear their way through the streets.

Road works

A minimum air temperature of 5C is needed before asphalting of potholes and other road damage can go ahead. A recent cold snap has slowed this down, but the city actually started the work on March 19, the City of Tallinn's Public Utilities Board (Kommunaalamet) says.

Tallinn street cleaning

Street cleaning is being held up by the continued use of studded all-weather tires, something the Road Administration said could continue into April.

Tallinn deputy mayor Kalle Klandorf (Center) says that their use generates a large volume of dust, which requires the removal of 200-300 bins-full following cleaning.

"Contrary to the Road Administration, I say that if you don't drive in the forest, change your tires," Klandorf said Wednesday, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

"We recommend purchasing all-season tires for next winter," said the city's environment and utilities manager Tarmo Sulg.

A Tallinn city press release agreed: "As long as the use of studded tires continues, the urban space will be constantly coated with fine dust, which is why it is not possible to ensure a dust-free urban environment despite the cleaning work. Tallinn is calling on car owners who are currently at home, to change their winter tires."

The city government says that it will not in fact conduct street cleaning work in its fullness until the studded tires have disappeared.

Six street washing machines and 31 brigades are carrying out the cleaning work. As of last week, a total of approximately 2,000 tons of garbage had been swept up.

Tallinn's budget its maintenance and repair works stands at €8.4 million.

Larger roadworks projects

As well as the annual spring clean, scheduled roadworks are to go ahead in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, and depending on the weather.

Five working brigades are starting in Lasnamäe, on Mustakivi, Laagna and Peterburi roads, Tarmo Sulg said, with Punane and Smuuli roads, as well as Narva maatnee, slated for work in the near future.

Other possible projects are weather-dependent, the city says.

Major reconstruction works are also currently underway on Koidu and Tedre streets west of the city center, and Tähetorni and Teelise roads, outside the city, with the largest projects – on J. Poska Street from Vesivärava tänav to Narva maantee in the city center, a public transport lane on Pirita tee between the Lauluväljak and Rummu tee (in the direction of Pirita), and on Viljandi tee and Roosikrantsi tänav in central Tallinn.

A total of €21.7 million has been allocated for the above work, plus any EU structural funding. 

Coronavirus cleaning efforts

While the restrictions may have facilitated earlier cleaning and roadworks, the coronavirus pandemic has also necessitated cleaning work in public spaces

"To this end, Tallinn has instructed its cooperation partners to wash the benches of the bus shelters at least once a day," said deputy mayor Klandorf, who added that pressure washers were being used to clean park benches, trashcans and ashcans in parks and public spaces etc.

Barring a return of cold and snowy weather, the spring clean and road patching up work should end in late April, the city says.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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