Due to the construction of the new Old City Harbour tram line (Vanasadama tramline), a portion of Gonsiori and Laikmaa streets in the center of Tallinn will be blocked in the beginning of March.
"There will be a period of heavy city center traffic. In the first full week of March, construction will start on Laikmaa tänav and Gonsiori tänav in the direction of Narva mnt and away from the city center to Kivisilla tänav. In mid-March, we will also start works in the harbor on Kai and Kuunari streets," Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet said during a press conference on Monday.
He advised motorists to avoid the area while repairs on Jõe and Pronksi streets continue. The better you plan your routes and find detours, the less impact road closures will have, Svet said.
The deputy mayor advised all drivers to use the "Waze" mobile app, as all work and traffic information is sent there immediately.
"The general advice is that if you are going to the city center, consider whether you need to drive your own car or whether you can arrange your travel differently," Svet said. Many people will have to rethink their driving routes this spring and summer, he added.
Svet said that the municipality is also working to reduce transiting the city center traffic.
Traffic restrictions in the port area will change continuously as the work progresses, but that efforts will be made to ensure smooth traffic flow to and from the port during the construction works.
The next traffic changes in the city center will take place in early April, when the other half of Laikmaa tänav will be closed towards Gonsiori tänav, and in addition Hobujaama tänav will be closed as well.
Svet advised starting to monitor this website, where all traffic information related to the construction, including public transportation bypass schemes, will be published.
Furthermore, the municipality promised to hold separate information days for local residents as well as meetings with local businesses to explain the impact of the construction and discuss ways to mitigate it.
Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart said that road users will face difficulties in the next year and a half to two years. He said that the city tried but failed to divide two major construction projects: the renovation of the Jõe-Pronksi and the construction of the Old City Harbour tram line.
"I must admit that we had aimed to start earlier, but because both projects require external funding and public procurement was necessary, the deadlines could not be adjusted only to the wishes of the municipality. As a result, major construction projects are underway in the city at the same time. However, both were unavoidable," Kõlvart said.
Kõlvart: there will be an entirely new urban space
Kõlvart also explained that the new Old City Harbor tram line, which will run through Gonsiori, Laikmaa and Hobujaama streets to the harbor and then to the Linnahall, will change the urban space in a broader sense.
"We are not just talking about a new tram line here but about a new urban space altogether, a new vision of it," Kõlvart said.
"The tramway connects two city gateways – the harbor and the Rail Baltic passenger terminal – while also creating new urban space. There will be more landscaping, permanent cycle paths and expanded pedestrian space, all of which we hope to have completed within two years," the mayor went on to say.
According to Svet, the plan is to increase the use of public transportation in urban areas, but in order for people to use it efficiently, more space for pedestrians must be created.
He explained that a major change is planned at the Kaubamaja intersection, where pedestrians will be returned to the ground. At the moment, the junction can be reached via an underground tunnel.
Overall, transportation will become more convenient not just for tram users, but also for pedestrians and cyclists, Svet said.
He said that the municipality has accounted for the organization of major events over the next two years, including the Youth Song and Dance Festival this summer.
New tram service to open summer 2024
Tiit Joosti, project manager at AS Merko Ehitus, which is coordinating the construction, said at the press conference that the tram service will begin in the summer of 2024, after which work on road pavements, traffic management and landscaping will continue. The project is slated be completed by February 2025.
Joost said that the construction work will begin on different sections at different times, one after the other, and will begin with the rebuilding of city communications, as it is necessary to consider factors relevant for the heating and gas supply.
"On the ground, we will begin installing the tram rails and the contact network in late 2023 and early 2024, while also continuing to build the adjacent roads," Joost explained.
According to him, the entire project will require the laying of three football fields' worth of pavement, which will take considerable time.
Vanasadam harbor will be linked to the future Rail Baltic Ülemiste passenger terminal by the Old City Harbour tram line. The Tartu mnt tramway will have a turnaround just before Kivisilla tänav, where the new tram line will branch off from the existing tramway on Maneegi tänav.
Starting from Kivisilla tänav, the new tram line will connect to the existing tramway in the direction of Kopli via Gonsiori, Laikmaa, Hobujaama, Ahtri, Laeva, Kuunari, Kai, Logi, Rumbi and Kursi streets, as well as Mere and Põhja Puieste.
The EU Recovery and Resilience Facility will contribute €26 million to the 2.5-kilometer tramway. The new tram line is part of the Rail Baltic high-speed rail project and its supporting infrastructure, which is co-financed by the European Union.
Editor: Kristina Kersa