In light of high inflation and rising costs, the City of Tallinn has drawn up a conservative state budget strategy for the next four years. Nonetheless, Estonia's capital city will be moving forward with several key investments, including construction of the planned major Tallinn Hospital and the renovation of the Soviet-era Linnahall complex.
The current state of the economy is cause for concern in Tallinn as well, which is why a number of planned investments must be postponed, Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said last week.
"A very clear message that an entire array of investments must be postponed — there's nothing to be done," Kõlvart said. "We've already come up with a plan, and will start adjusting it based on the circumstances. But it won't be possible in the coming years to realize that which was planned a year ago."
While the City of Tallinn will be spending a total of €214 million on investments this year, this sum is set to be reduced to €178 million next year and €177 million the year after that. Annual investment spending won't exceed €200 million again until 2026.
According to the mayor, the city won't abandon investments he referred to as strategic even in difficult times — namely, Tallinn Hospital and the Linnahall complex. Both are also included in the list of investments over the next four years, although in the case of the planned megahospital, it has been noted that the implementation of the project will depend on EU as well as state financing. Kõlvart said that the funds designated for construction of the hospital are being frozen, however design work will be seen through to completion.
Apparent in the city's budget strategy is the fact that, in 2026, when investment volumes are set to increase again, a driving factor behind the increase will be investments in the field of social welfare and healthcare — to the tune of €136 million that year. Kõlvart noted that construction of the planned megahospital should be figured out in perhaps two years' time.
In lieu of fixing it up on its own dime, the city also wants to partner up with a private business for another of its major projects — Linnahall and its surroundings. The hunt for said partner is already underway.
Kõlvart promised that "a broader concept of how we picture the future" will be unveiled and a competition for a private investor for the project announced by the end of the year.
Bigger roadwork projects still planned
The biggest roadwork projects to be included in the City of Tallinn's budget strategy are the reconstruction of Peterburi tee, Liivalaia tänav, Tulika tänav, Pikk tänav, Lastekodu tänav as well as Jõe tänav and Pronksi tänav, the last two of which are slated to begin this month already.
Also in the four-year plan is the overhaul of Suur-Ameerika tänav and Endla tänav between the intersection of Suur-Ameerika and Luise and the Taksopark intersection.
Also cited as a significant investment in the budget strategy is the construction of a multilevel junction at the Tondi overpass, combined with overhauling Kotka tänav and Tondi tänav to be more bike-friendly.
Other plans include launching the reconstruction of Suur-Sõjamäe tänav between Kesk-Sõjamäe tänav and Smuuli tee, the building of Rahu tee connecting Laagna tee with Ussimäe tee as well as the reconstruction of roads in Tallinn's Veskimetsa neighborhood.
Of planned tram lines, the city plans to complete construction of the new tramway between Ülemiste Terminal and Old City Harbor as well as begin preparatory work for the construction of another three tramways, including the Tondi-Järve extension, the Pelguranna tram and the Liivalaia tram.
New tramways are a priority for the City of Tallinn, and their construction was also agreed upon within the capital city's ruling Center Party-Social Democratic Party (SDE) coalition.
According to Kõlvart, it hasn't yet been decided in what order the three planned new tramways will be built.
"Currently we're not yet ready to say in what order, for at least two reasons," he explained. "First of all, we're still handling an analysis of what a reasonable order would be. It also depends on how we agree with private owners, how design provisions will start to impact things, how to utilize foreign financing to carry projects out."
Deputy Mayor Joosep Vimm (SDE) noted that they won't be able to complete three new tram lines within the next four years, however they still hope to be able to use funding from EU structural funds to build them.
The City of Tallinn wants to utilize EU funding to build the planned new tramways, and currently stands to receive more than €40 million in funding for them.
Bike lanes, public transport, parks
The new city budget strategy has promised "even more funds" for the implementation of the much-criticized Tallinn Bike Strategy, including from both the city budget and from foreign funding. Plans include the completion of the bike lane connecting Lasnamäe District with the city center as well as the Rahumäe tee bike lane.
Also planned is a collection of bike paths establishing links between the city center and Kristiine and Põhja-Tallinn districts.
Construction is also slated to begin on pedestrian railway underpasses at Endla tänav, Paldiski maantee as well as Pääsküla and Laagri rail stops.
The capital city intends to purchase more trams as well as electric buses for use in public transport.
It also plans to build Klindi Park in Lasnamäe and the Pollinator Highway, revamp Pae Park, develop the bastion zone surrounding Tallinn's Old Town as well as the Järveotsa Promenade, market and exhibition space.
The city also plans to adopt a detailed plan for Kakumäe Beach and design a new beach pavilion. A new beach pavilion is also slated to be built at Stroomi Beach.
In education, extensions are planned for Jakob Westholm High School, Tallinn Secondary School of Science, Nõmme High School as well as Tallinn Art High School. Tallinn Art School, the old building of Nõmme High School and the historic building of Kivimäe Basic School are slated to be renovated, while altogether new buildings are to be built for Tallinn Helen's School and Kivimäe Basic School.
In the cultural sector, development work is slated to continue on Tallinn City Theater, Tallinn Botanical Gardens, Tallinn City Museum as well as Tallinn Zoo.
Tallinn City Council must also approve the city's new budget strategy; it is slated to discuss the strategy at this week's sitting.
Editor: Aili Vahtla