The City of Tartu had hoped to complete a major part of the construction work on its cycle path network by the fall. However, as things stand, work is now not likely to begin until next year. At the same time, Tartu will not want to have too many major roadwork projects underway in the center city in 2024, when it is European Capital of Culture.
The budget for work on Tartu's core cycle path network over the next five years is around €20 million, more than half of which is to be covered by external funding. According to a report by ETV show "Aktuaalne kaamera," it had been hoped, that construction work planned for cycle paths on Turu tänav and Vabaduse puiestee would begin this summer with the help of state subsidies.
Rein Haak, head of the Tartu government's City Economy Department, said, that the city hoped to begin construction work this year. "But now, the situation is, that if we want to do something with this subsidy, then we have to do it next year," Haak said.
Tartu deputy mayor Raimond Tamm also said, that the city wanted to complete the cycle paths on Vabaduse puiestee and Turu tänav this year. "It is precisely because we didn't want to do have big construction works going on during the Capital of Culture year. How this plan goes forward now will depend on when the opportunity for this support measure opens up," said Tamm.
Indrek Gailan, head of transport development and investment at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, said, that while the initial plan had been to open up the opportunity for support measures to provide funding before April, that deadline has now been pushed back to the second quarter of the year. However, there is no rule against applying for funding to pay for work, which has already been completed.
"This involves certain amount of risk," said Gailan. He added, that if such projects meet the ministry's general requirements of being separately marked, away from the carriageway and safe, Tartu should have no problem in applying for funds to support a project, which has already been finished.
Most of Tartu's core street network is designed in such a way, that the cycle lanes are separated from from both the carriageway and the sidewalk. Rein Haak said, that much of the space designated for cycle lanes comes at the expense of parking spaces.
"The space has to come from somewhere, and you just don't have that space in the older settlements. On a wide street, where you have a bike lane on both sides of the street, you're going to lose parking spaces and so you're probably going to have to have a one-way street," said Haak.
"Bike lanes will also be needed outside of the main network. In May, work will start on Ujula tänav, where a cycle lane will also replace some of the parking spaces. The city has allocated €800,000 for Ujula tänav," said Haak.
Editor: Michael Cole