The lifespan of Narva's Friendship Bridge - connecting Estonia and Russia - is soon reaching its end and the bridge will need extensive reconstruction. Estonia hopes to build a new one in ten years, with the help of their neighbor to the East - Russia.
According to the Transportation Administration (Transpordiamet), the 60-year old bridge's capacity is exhausted and it's constructions are depreciating. Tõnis Tagger, a leading specialist at the Transportation Administration's infrastructure development department, said now is the time to look for a replacement for the bridge.
"The current bridge was projected for the capacities of the Soviet Union, 18-ton trucks. Narva's bridge has never been strengthened, it's lifespan is reaching an end in ten years, we can no longer delay preparations for a reconstruction project," Tagger said.
Since Russia did not consider Estonia's previous proposal to develop a new bridge a couple of kilometers from Narva, the department thinks the focus should be on reconstructing the existing bridge, an idea which Russia's equivalent has agreed to in principle.
The options would then be replacing the old bridge, extending it or building a new one right aside it. A cost analysis will determine the best option, hopefully paid for by the European Union's Estonia-Russia Cross Border Cooperation Programme.
"The effect on border crossing is very great. For the time of reconstruction, one year, there will be long delays and limitations. Alternatives will be considered and the best option will be chosen. Initial assessments show that a parallel bridge will be constructed first, meeting all capacities and then the existing one will be reconstructed. It will have no effect on Narva-Ivangorod's border traffic," Tagger explained.
He assessed that delaying the reconstruction works on Narva's border bridge will set the transportation link between Tallinn and Saint Petersburg in danger.
"Historically, we have been dealing with one bridge when crossing the Narva River, there has been no practical alternative to the border crossing. This means that in case of a bridge accident, you have to be prepared for a 400-500 km detour through Finland or southeastern Estonia. In the case of us not strengthening or reconstructing the bridge, that risk could realize in about ten years," Tagger said.
According to Tagger, the results of the €1 million cost analysis and financing the pre-project from the EU programme will be clear this year, leading to the development project being drawn up in four years. The final decision on financing could take place in 2027.
After that however, an international procurement must be announced with the help of Russia and actual construction could begin in 2030.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste