Another major Tallinn transport infrastructure project starts early summer

The Tondi rail crossing as it currently exists.
The Tondi rail crossing as it currently exists. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Work to route cars on a central Tallinn congestion point below a rail line is to begin in early summer, and will cost the City of Tallinn €7.2 million.

Tallinn City Government said the work, in the vicinity of Tondi rail station, will be "extensive", and will last one-and-a-half years.

It will lead to rail closures at weekends also.

It will result in a raised rail section where currently traffic must pass over a level crossing (see cover image), with congestion exacerbated by the tramline running close by.

Currently the intersection is a rather idiosyncratic layout (see map below), with the rail line running into the acute angle formed by Kotka, which runs alongside it, and Tondi. In turn, a tramline runs along Tondi and hangers left (towards its terminus).

Vehicles approaching from the northeast wishing to turn into Kotka must take a sharp right, while Tondi approaches the level crossing itself on a steep incline, from both sides.

Map showing the Tondi intersection in Tallinn, and its environs, with the rail line (red) bisecting the junction of Kotka (yellow) and Tondi (light blue). The number 6 tramline (mauve) peels off shortly before the intersection. Source: Google Maps
Location of Tondi intersection (red pin) on a larger scale map of Tallinn. Source: Google Maps

Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Vladimir Svet said: "The timetable for the closure of tram traffic in 2023 is in place as of today, but the exact plans for the closures in 2024 are not yet known.

"The detailed plan for carrying out the works depends, among other things, on the supply of tram lines. It is hoped that the corresponding works can be carried out this year, however. In the event that they cannot, they must be finished in 2024," Svet said.

"We will announce the details separately when a more precise schedule is in place," he went on.

In any case, with the ongoing work extending the Old City Harbor tram line, summer tram traffic on the affected route will be virtually non-existent, Svet added.

Train traffic, on the other hand, will only be interrupted minimally, Svet added.

"Windows of time during which train traffic can be suspended must be between June 17 and August 28. These can only be obtained at weekends, with a maximum length from midnight on Friday/Saturday, until 5 a.m. on the Monday morning, or a total of 53 hours," Svet said.

"The contractor would prepare a work project which would specify the traffic management of construction works and coordinate the solution thereto, with the City of Tallinn.

"The intersection of Kotka and Tondi streets must remain open, but in exceptional cases full closures are permitted," he went on (see map below).

Traffic on Kotka tänav will remain open to public transport while the work is ongoing.

While the Tondi crossing would be closed to traffic which the viaduct work is being carried out, a crossing for pedestrians will be ensure.

The city had initially planned to start the work last year (link in Estonian), with an estimate of a €10-million price tag, ahead of the tender being announced.

As of now, the work, which the city has referred to as "complicated" and "expensive," will start in early summer and last 18 months.

The project will see a rebuilt rail crossing, with cars passing underneath (see artist's impression below).

The 300m section of Kotka, from Tondi to Tedre (see map above) will be renovated also, to include sidewalks 2.5m to 3.5m wide and landscaping with over 200 trees or other plants.

The rail platform at Tondi station will also be revitalized.

Leonhard Weiss OÜ won the construction tended in spring at a cost of €7.2 million and from a total of five bidders.

The extension work is one of a slew of road and infrastructure works to have all fallen on the capital's center at the same time.

The Center Party, which performed more poorly than anticipated at the March Riigikogu election, is the dominant party at municipal level in Tallinn, and is in coalition with the Social Democrats.

In addition to the Tondi work, the tramline mentioned above is designated line number 6 and runs to Kopli, making up for the extension work and disruption caused in the direction of the Old City Harbor. This has not only led to the closure of Laikmaa, a main thoroughfare, but work on Pronksi and Jõe tänav which runs adjacent to that road has furthered the traffic jams to be seen even outside of rush hour.

Elsewhere in the capital, the Vana Kalamaja extension and rerouting is also ongoing, as are some smaller projects.

At the same time, Tallinn tends to somewhat empty out of residents and workers in the months of June to August as people head for their country retreats.

Artist's rendition of the planned two-tier Tondi road/rail intersection. Source: Roadplan/City of Tallinn Environment Board


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Andrew Whyte

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