Tartu is seeing a busy time of road construction and traffic restrictions, with the so-called greenway junction construction at the Riia and Vaksali intersection causing the most congestion. To improve traffic safety, the city's government is barring the passage of heavy trucks through the city center from Monday, September 14.
Whereas heavy trucks driving from South Estonia to Tallinn could previously take a faster route through Estonia's second city, from September 16, the city center is closed to such vehicles, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday.
Head of Tartu Traffic Management Service Martin Nelis said that this will both improve the environmental circumstances and the traffic security at the major Riia and Turu intersection, which is undergoing reconstruction work.
"We carried out a study which showed that during rush hour, 25 heavy trucks, weighing 40 tonnes, drove down the Puiestee tn and Narva mnt. The Riga-Turu intersection has seen the same volumes. This was still quite a significant magnitude, which prompted me to think that if these same heavy trucks drove uphill up Narva mnt, then bearing in mind the local residents, this [restriction] is definitely a very big step for them," Nelis explained.
The restriction will be on heavy trucks weighing more than 18 tonnes. The city government will issue special permits for the city center services to be able to enter the area, though not to drive through it.
Roadworks also holding up regular drivers
There will also be restrictions for road users in place. The construction of the Riia-Vaksali junction, where until November, there are two lanes instead of four, is seeing the most congestion. The section of Vaksali tn will also be closed until the end of October, as the construction of a light traffic road is underway there.
"Riia tn is really congested during rush hour. The drive from the city center is still at least a quarter of an hour. If you come from the corner of Ravila and Riia, this will still take around a quarter of an hour," taxi driver Vladislav told AK.
"Of course it holds us up, but somehow we can still get through. In the morning, in the morning, it's a bit difficult, in the evening too," driver Ljudmila said.
"You can move more or less. Compared with Tallinn, more or less anyway," said another taxi driver, Sergei. According to him, the closure of the section of Vaksali Street is however causing disruption.
On the section between Riia road's Lembitu and Kastani streets, the four lanes should be back up and running by November. However, various restrictions will apply there until the autumn of 2022, when the light traffic tunnels and junction should be finalized and open.
"It is inevitable that this will lead to longer waiting times, but when this is completed - hopefully by November - these long waiting times will definitely fall," said Nelis.
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte