The local municipality leaders of Haapsalu and Lääne-Nigula in western Estonia are unhappy with the Transport Administration's decision to not open ice roads this year as a budget-saving measure.
The Transport Administration and its predecessor, the Road Administration, has usually opened the ice road between Noarootsi and Haapsalu in either January or February. It will not be opened next year, however, because ice roads were cut as a budget-saving measure by the Transport Administration, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Thursday.
It is likely that people will still begin crossing the ice, which will not be inspected by specialists this time around. "You do not have to have a crystal ball. It is clear that if there is ice and there are madmen, it will end with there being a road created, but that is dangerous," said Haapsalu mayor Urmas Sukles.
The Transport Administration confirmed that they intend to raise awareness against going on the ice. "Actually, in earlier years, when we have opened ice roads, there have been people that go on the ice too early or too late. We will certainly do some information work, that people should only go on the ice if it has been officially opened," said Transport Administration infrastructure management service director Raido Randmaa.
The administration finds that ice roads do not have a significant role as ferry traffic improves and develops. People on the Noarootsi peninsula, however, say ice roads continue to be important in winter.
"This ice road has been a way of life for people in Noarootsi, since the cost of time and fuel is ten times lower when going to the county center (Haapsalu - ed)," said Lääne-Nigula municipality Noarootsi deputy mayor Aivo Hirmo.
Since the Transport Administration was not able to make budgetary cuts in investments, they had to find €3.8 million to cut in their €47.7 million budget. The savings off ice roads total some €375,000, of which the allocation to Noarootsi would have been around €50,000.
"We actually went over our costs very thoroughly. All operating costs, trainings, business trips, will be affected, we have also reduced our staff. There is a very strong analysis behind the decision and difficult decisions have to be made," Randmaa noted.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste