Year-long Vana-Kalamaja tänav reconstruction to start in coming weeks

Designs for a new Vana-Kalamaja tänav. On the right are temporarily opened garden spaces.
Designs for a new Vana-Kalamaja tänav. On the right are temporarily opened garden spaces. Source: Kavakava

Reconstruction work on Tallinn's Vana-Kalamaja tänav is set to begin in late August or early September. Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet (Center) told ERR, that the work is expected to take around one year to complete.

The eagerly awaited reconstruction of one of Kalamaja's main streets, will finally get underway in a few weeks' time. In early August, Tallinna Teede Aktsiaselts was announced as the winner of the tender to undertake the project, with the company due to sign a construction contract with the city of Tallinn in the coming days.

The reconstruction of Vana-Kalamaja tänav will cost the city of Tallinn €8.6 million, almost €2 million more than originally budgeted for the project.

According to Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet, the work will take approximately one year to complete.  According to Svet, "It doesn't mean there will be one big trench there for a whole year. (Work) will start from Balti jaam (Tallinn's main train station) and move towards the sea, bit by bit. The street furniture, the landscaping and the design elements, these will come last, next summer. We are trying to make sure that if there is the slightest opportunity to make the street passable for people (during the reconstruction), we will do it," Svet added.

After the construction contract is signed, an information day will be organized for locals to provide an overview of the work schedule and resulting traffic restrictions.

Bus shelter to be rebuilt separately

Initial plans included work to reconstruct the bus shelter area next to Balti jaam as part of the Vana-Kalamaja tänav project. However, these plans suffered a setback after the winning solution in the competition to redesign the area was not deemed practical for the use of buses.

According to Vladimir Svet, the problem remains unresolved, and as the construction of Vana-Kalamaja tänav is about to begin, it will be necessary to create a separate project and tender for the bus shelter area.

"We have divided this into a separate project and will start to work with other organizations to find a solution, including the Põhja-Eesti Public Transport Center, which is the main user of the bus shelter area," said the deputy mayor.

According to Svet, the aim of the redevelopment would be to make the county line bus stops more convenient for people, reduce the need to walk between buses and on the road as much as possible, and also provide smooth connections to the promenade and station building.

Design of the new Balti Jaam station (building to the right) square. Source: Kavakava

"This requires very precise discussions, with architects and urban planners at the table on the one hand, and, on the other, people who understand what a bus driver's everyday life looks like, where it's convenient and safe for him to reverse park. On the surface, it seems like a technical issue - a bus station is a bus station - but if we want to do it in a high quality and modern way, we need a dialogue," he said.

The current goal is to make firm plans for the redevelopment during the fall. Optimistically speaking, this could mean work on the bus shelter project beginning at the same time as the Vana-Kalamaja tänav project. However, is also possible that it may not begin until the larger project has been completed.

The plan is to remove the bus parking area near the bus stops and relocate it. The idea of moving the county lines bus stops away from Balti jaam altogether is also being discussed. However, Svet believes the current location is a good one, as it is close to Tallinn's main railway station and market, as well as having connections to the old town, harbor and Kalamaja area.

"Before we think about whether we should reorganize what is working, maybe we could (just) find a better solution there," Svet said.

Pedestrianized street

The are which will be reconstructed starts at the Toompuiestee end of Nunne tänav and ends at Suur-Patarei tänav, running predominantly along Vana-Kalamaja tänav. The area also includes the new Baltic Station Square and the square in front of the Gustav Adolf Grammar School.

The rebuilt street will provide an above ground connection between Kalamaja and Tallinn Old Town, with pedestrians currently required to use an underground tunnel. There will also be more space for pedestrians and cyclists than cars, with a large part of the area dedicated to street furniture and squares.

The viewing platform on the end of Vana-Kalamaja tänav. Source: Kavakava

" Iwould say this street (will be) made very pedestrian-oriented," said Svet. "I think the biggest change will be at the end of the street, where there will be a pedestrian crossing over Toompuiestee, where currently (people) have to go underground. This is a landmark moment in my opinion," said Svet.

"You can't say that cars will be completely driven out, and they don't have to be - there's nothing inherently wrong with people using cars. It's just that pedestrians, as well as cyclists and other light road users, will feel a lot safer there," he added.

Vana-Kalamaja tänav will be renovated according to plans produced by architects Siiri Vallner, Indrek Peil and Kristel Niisuke from "Kasvulava" (Stage for growing), who won a 2017 competition to redesign the area.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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