Western municipalities interested in opening ice roads this winter

The Haapsalu-Noarootsi ice road was opened to traffic on Wednesday morning. Feb. 21, 2018.
The Haapsalu-Noarootsi ice road was opened to traffic on Wednesday morning. Feb. 21, 2018. Source: (Juhan Hepner/ERR)

Estonia's Transport Administration is ready to build ice roads this winter if the conditions are suitable but said on Tuesday local authorities must also be ready to co-finance the venture. Two councils have said they are potentially interested.

In previous years, up to seven ice roads were built in Estonia during winter, but due to the changing climate, it is now only possible to create the shorter lanes between Haapsalu-Noarootsi, Laaksaar-Piirissaare and possibly Rohuküla-Vormsi in western Estonia.

Last year, there was only one attempt to construct an ice road and this was between Haapsalu-Noarootsi. In the end, it was not opened due to unstable weather. 

The costs were paid for by the city of Haapsalu, Lääne-Nigula municipality, and the Transport Authority.

Hannes Vaidla, head of the agency's western district, said this model is seen as best practice.

"All of us now know that our country's road maintenance funding is not the best and we are trying to save money on all sides. Now if were get ice, we will move forward with a similar model to build ice roads, so that all three parties who need the route will contribute the most," he told Tuesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Haapsalu-Noarootsi ice road in 2019. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

Haapsalu Mayor Urmas Sukles said several thousand euros was spent on preparations last year but the costs were worth it because the ice road becomes a huge big tourist attraction if it can be used.

"If you look at it from Haapsalu's point of view, I think it's a great tourist attraction and it brings a lot of tourists and makes economic sense from the Noarootsi side," said Sukles.

The last time the road was opened was in 2019.

Mayor of Vormsi Maris Jõgeva said an ice road between Rohuküla-Sviby would help the residents with their daily activities but it is not known if it would bring additional benefits, such as tourism.

"I think that certainly the option or possibility should be put on the table to see what we actually have in terms of our budgetary possibilities, and then perhaps by comparing them with the actual need," said Jõgeva.

The municipality has not yet discussed if it would be willing to co-fund the construction of an ice road. The last ice road between Rohuküla-Sviby was built in 2018.

More information about ice roads can be viewed on the Trasport Administration's website.


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Editor: Mari Peegel, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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