Long-planned but constantly postponed due to lack of funds, the full reconstruction of Tallinn's Peterburi tee is finally due to start next year. However, in the meantime, work has begun on a 0.5 kilometer section of the road close to Ülemiste.
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet told ERR, that designs for the Majaka-Väike-Paala section of Peterburi tee are almost complete, and that reconstruction work should be ready to begin in the spring.
Considering the overall length of Peterburi tee, the section on which work is underway is quite short. However, according to Svet, the decision was made in light of Rail Baltic's planned construction of the Ülemiste Terminal and its surroundings.
"The plan is, that next year Rail Baltic will begin its work, and we needed our investments to be in sync with Rail Baltic," said Svet. "On the rest of Peterburi tee, from Väike-Paala to the Väo junction, there were all kinds of comments and suggestions from the various businesses that are on the road, all with ideas about how to organize access for their own premises. Because we needed to (continue) working on the designs for a longer period of time, we decided to do the work on Peterburi tee in stages. This will also allow us to plan the budget better," said Svet.
According to Svet, this does not mean the renovation of Peterburi tee will be split up into sections as short as a few hundred meters each.
"The next section will probably be much longer. We haven't decided yet, whether we will divide it into two phases, or more. In all likelihood, the Väike-Paala–Smuuli section will be next. Then we will have to assess whether Smuuli-Väo will be done in one go or if it will also be split, for example Smuuli to Kuuli tänav and then Kuuli to Väo junction," said Svet.
Svet estimated, that work on the first section should take less than a year.
"If we start in spring, we could finish it by the end of the year. The reconstruction work should take six to eight months," he said.
In its current state, Peterburi tee has been described by Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, as an eyesore. However, no funds have been allocated to start work on its reconstruction before now.
Tallinn has estimated that a complete reconstruction of Peterburi tee would cost €40 million. However, this estimate was made before recent wave of price increases. Costs in light of the current situation have yet to be calculated, with Svet also putting this down to the design still not being fully complete.
However, what is clear, is that the newly renovated Peterburi tee will have cycle lanes, and, in some sections, lower speed limits for motorists. While the road will continue to have two lanes moving in each direction, the width of the carriageway will be reduced.
"(The width) will be reduced so that buses and trucks can still drive on it, but the idea is that speeds there will not exceed 50 km/h. At the Rail Baltic terminal, in the Mayaka-Pae area, we plan to reduce the speed limit to 40 km/h," said Svet. We are also looking to include proper cycling infrastructure on both sides of Peterburi tee, with the idea being, that people who work or live nearby will be able to cycle as quickly and comfortably as possible," he added.
Svet added that pedestrian footpaths and public transport stops on the road will also be improved, with landscaping features added where possible.
Roads in neaarby industrial area will also be improved.
Svet said that, once the reconstruction of Peterburi tee, has been completed, the industrial area alongside it, is next in line for redevelopment.
"The logic is simple: when we get to one side of Peterburi tee, we will also tackle Betooni tänav and Paneeli tänav. We have to admit, that the industrial area of Lasnamäe and its road network are long overdue for investment and renovation. The important thing is, that we do not simply recreate the situation that has existed there in the past. With the reconstruction of all these roads, we want to ensure that, as far as possible, people are able to get to their jobs by public transport or by bicycle. However, of course, following the reconstruction, motor traffic will also be maintained there," said Svet.
While there has been repeated talk of a possible state subsidy for Peterburi tee, the government has been reluctant to allocate additional funds for the reconstruction, saying that the road is owned by the City of Tallinn.
According to Svet, the current plan is to finish the road using funds from the Tallinn's budget.
"But let's see what happens. We can see that the experts and the Ministry of economic Affairs and Infrastructure admit, that road construction and maintenance is underfunded throughout the whole country. Perhaps this discussion will lead to the state realizing it is necessary to maintain state roads, and that to do this, significantly more investment is required," he said.
In January this year, work was completed on the rebuilding of the Väo junction, at the eastern end of Peterburi tee. The project, which was completed with the help of EU funds, took two years to conclude.
Editor: Michael Cole