First ice road of winter opens on Peipsi Järv

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Ice road to Piirissaare island off the shore of Peipsi Järv. Source: ERR

The first of Estonia's ice roads to open this winter has been in operation since the weekend, though has not been universally welcomed.

While ice roads between the Estonian mainland and some of its islands are perhaps the most well-known, if not perennial such features, the route which opened on Saturday runs across Peipsi Järv (Lake Peipus), which makes up much of Estonia's eastern border.

The ice road runs 8 kilometers, links the small port of Laaksaare with the offshore, inhabited island of Piirissaare, and was last running in 2019.

In the first two days since opening, over 200 trips by car have been made on the ice road so far, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).

As usual with ice roads, speed limits are set – in this case 30 km/h due to the bumpy and uneven nature of the ice, which also has a wooden bridge installed along one fissure.

Piirissaare has around 30 year-round inhabitants, who in fact do not welcome the opening of the ice road due to a dislike of tourists, AK reported, while the route does not bring any particular boon in terms of supplies either - a weight limit of two tonnes keeps this to a minimum, and local residents had already been using motor sledges and similar vehicles to traverse the ice even before the ice route opened.

Outsiders were outnumbering locals on the ice road even on Monday, a working day, AK reported, both in their cars and on skis.

Elsewhere, sea ice is being negotiated in ways other than by car, with the ice pack not strong enough to open up any other routes even with the recent cold snap.

Video of the ice road in action from last night's AK (in Estonian) is below.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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