Tallinn's major infrastructure projects awaiting injection of state funds

The Narva maantee was to become the Main Street. A tramway is currently under construction there.
The Narva maantee was to become the Main Street. A tramway is currently under construction there. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Tallinn has proposed a number of big infrastructure projects that have languishing in limbo for years now. The city says that the projects have not been canceled and that they will be completed as soon as the state finds the necessary funds.

Tallinn has initiated a number of critical infrastructure projects that are scheduled to be operational soon. However, the general public is unaware of what happened to them, after a time of silence; for example, the pedestrianized Tallinn Main Street, which should have extended from Hobujaama to Narva maantee, is one of such initiatives. Although the Old Harbor tram line is now being built in Hobujaama, the capital's Main Street project will not be done.

"The current [tram line] construction has no bearing on the prospect of building the [pedestrianized] main street in the future. This year, we will try to overcome the obstacles in order to proceed with the main street design and we hope to be able to discuss the schedule by the end of the year," Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Vladimir Svet (Centre) said.

The tramway had to force its way from Pärnu maantee to Rävala puieste against all odds, so even the houses built there 10 years ago were constructed with this tram line in mind.

"I think we must be honest in saying that it was discussed in a very particular manner four years ago, but as far as we know now, it is not being actively developed. At the moment, we prioritize the Liivalaia tram route since it would allow us to better connect the city's important points of interest, such as the Kristiine shopping mall and other places," Svet added.

The passage that was supposed to link Viljandi maantee to Tervise tänav, as well as the tunnel that was supposed to run beneath the train, have both been left unrealized as well.

Svet explained that the intention behind this project was to create a connection with Tervise tänav in the Järve borough, which would be a natural extension of Tallinn's prospective small ring road.

Tallinn's small ring road, which would start at Smuuli road in Tallinn, passing through the airport, the Peetri village in Rae rural municipality and back to Tallinn, has been talked about for years now. It is meant to direct traffic away from the city center and is a public infrastructure project that is not financed by the city of Tallinn.

"The undertaking conditions have been issued, but they have been also challenged," Viktor Kisselyov, interim director of the Transport Administration's road maintenance service, said. "We are currently in court over the design conditions for Tallinn's small ring road," he added.

Two owners have challenged the land transfer. Even though the court ruled in favor of the state today, one of the owners has already filed an appeal. The transport authority expects the legal dispute to be resolved later this year.

However, that is only half the problem. "The current projected cost based on the pre-project is around €200 million. Moreover, no funding has yet been planned for road repairs. We will have to negotiate on this issue until the court process is completed," Kisseljov said.

However, there is no money for investment in the road maintenance plan, and there will be no money in the next years because funding is decreasing rather than increasing.

Rae municipality is also eagerly anticipating the construction of Tallinn's small ring road, but it is unlikely to happen this decade. At the same time, there has been speculation of a tram line connecting Tallinn and Jüri.

As the plan is unlikely to materialize within the next decade, Tallinn intends to meet its mobility needs concurrently via public transportation.

Every day, between 15,000 and 20,000 people commute from the capital to Rae, a rural municipality in northern Estonia, the vast majority by car, so a tram line from Tallinn to Jüri has been discussed for many years.

"We will soon know if it is a tram, a bus, a self-driving bus, or a third or fourth form of transportation. The first phase, which we envision, will run from Tallinn Airport to the connection with the Tallinn ring road. The second stage would be from there to the Rail Baltic station in Assakul, and the third stage would be from there to Jüri," Rae Deputy Mayor Anna Õuekallas (Reform) explained.

The new tram line has to be built in partnership with the capital. Tallinn, on the other hand, considers other tram lines to be more important for the city and prioritizes a link between Liivalaia, Järve and Pelguranna. The rest is in the future.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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