New residential areas, residents, and bus routes have made traffic on Paldiski Highway, close to Lake Harku, more complicated than ever and there is seemingly no solution. Tallinn's Transport Department finds that the road will most likely have to be reconstructed into a 2+2 road in the future.
There are many intersections on Paldiski Highway and the reason for the congestion is mainly drivers exiting the road. The traffic light system should coordinate a green wave to allow continuous traffic flow, but that is a plan for the future, the first goal is to reduce congestion.
Head of Tallinn's Transport Department, Andres Harjo, told ERR in addition to intersections, it must be considered that traffic frequency on Paldiski Highway has significantly increased. From 2012-2018, there has been a daily increase of 36 percent in traffic volume.
Harjo said: "Every road has its capacity, especially if it is a two-lane road. Residential areas are planned on both sides of Paldiski Highway all the way to Keila and those people will inevitably work in Tallinn. In terms of capacity, Paldiski Highway has become out-dated."
According to him, the department has discovered a section close to Lake Harku that directly affects capacity.
"It is the intersection on Järvekalda tee, where travelers coming from Tallinn turn on to Järvekalda Street, where a remarkable residential area is already located and there are more in development. Those right turners slow down and traffic flow suffers. An additional right-turn lane with a deceleration path is needed," he said.
Another option is to widen the road, but this would be much more expensive. A 2+2 reconstruction might be the only solution.
Harjo said: "In the long run, that is all we can do. If one lane allows 800-900 cars to pass hourly, then inevitably, when volume exceeds that, we cannot do without additional lanes."
Public transportation will also not improve the situation, because these vehicles would also become stuck in congestion on the two-lane road.
He added: "Another solution is to make additional space for public transportation, but then we're still talking about bus lanes. If there could be a bus lane throughout or a short bus lane before traffic lights, where they would be given right of way. That is also a possibility."
In Õismäe, new residential developments are expected. This would mean additional side roads which eventually lead to Paldiski Highway. It also means even more intersections and traffic lights. Tallinn has previously been criticized for having too many traffic lights on the highway.
Harjo can not yet specify what will be done: "We have only mapped the situation out and conducted a small analysis. One can assume real estate developments will continue. It is clear that those meadows will not be left empty."
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste