Tallinn bringing pedestrians aboveground, but tunnels slated to remain

Reconstruction work underway on Vana-Kalamaja tänav in Tallinn.
Reconstruction work underway on Vana-Kalamaja tänav in Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Road reconstruction projects are gradually bringing pedestrian traffic aboveground around Baltic Station, a major intersection by Tallinna Kaubamaja and on Liivalaia tänav. Instead of ditching the tunnels altogether, however, the City of Tallinn plans to repurpose them.

Part of the Vana-Kalamaja tänav reconstruction project involves a complete renovation of the lot including Baltic Station's bus stops and surrounding areas. The street will also be connected through to Nunne tänav, and pedestrians currently routed to an underground tunnel below Toompuiestee will be brought aboveground.

According to current plans, the tunnel will be kept intact. How exactly it will be redesigned, however, is still currently under discussion by various city authorities.

"What we're discussing in terms of the Baltic Station tunnel — whether the necessary infrastructure could perhaps be built there for long-term bike storage, allowing people to leave their bikes there before taking the train and vice versa — [city] authorities will start analyzing whether and in what form this plan is possible," Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet (Center) told ERR.

According to Svet, long-term bike storage will be introduced by Baltic Station regardless; right now, the question is whether this will be located in the pedestrian tunnel or aboveground.

Reconstruction work underway on Vana-Kalamaja tänav in Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Bringing pedestrian traffic aboveground is part of city authorities' general policy of making the Estonian capital more accessible to pedestrians, the deputy mayor highlighted.

This means that in the near future — i.e. once roadwork in those areas is completed — pedestrians will soon also be able to cross the intersection outside Tallinna Kaubamaja as well as Liivalaia tänav aboveground if they'd like.

Reconstruction of the Kaubamaja intersection will take place as part of the construction of the city's new Old City Harbor tramway, which has been delayed but is set to begin as soon as possible; the City of Tallinn is planning on ordering design work for the overhaul of Liivalaia tänav this year.

The city plans on keeping both of these tunnels as well.

"At least for the time being, we're not planning on getting rid of these tunnels and filling them with sand or something, but rather using them as places that can be given some sort of other function," Svet explained.

"We've taken all underground tunnels into account as sheltering sites as well," he continued. "Thus they will continue to maintain a specific function in the future as well, when pedestrians can move aboveground on a daily basis."

The deputy mayor added that the underground four-way pedestrian tunnel by Tallinna Kaubamaja will remain open throughout construction of the Old City Harbor tramway.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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