Estonia to ask Latvia about Salacgriva Bridge

Salacgriva Bridge.
Salacgriva Bridge. Source: Google Street View

While authorities in Estonia have not identified many problems with the throughput of the Via Baltica (E67) route so far, recent deadlock on the Salacgriva Bridge has prompted the Transport Administration to contact its Latvian counterpart.

"We have not heard from transport firms of throughput problems on the Via Baltica (which connects Tallinn to Warsaw, passing through Latvia and Lithuania – ed.) until recently. The Transport Administration has asked our Latvian colleagues for more information, said Julia Bergštein, head of the roads service of the Ministry of Climate.

She said that the Estonian transport agency works closely with its Latvia and Lithuanian counterparts through joint NGO Baltic Road Alliance.

A bridge over the Salaca River in the village of Salacgriva on the Via Baltica route has not seen renovation in years and vehicles can only cross it in one direction at a time since the start of 2023 to avoid overloading the aging structure.

The Latvian media reports that major traffic jams can develop around the holidays and especially in summertime when the number of personal vehicles spikes, in addition to busy truck traffic.

Latvian public broadcaster LSM wrote in late June of rows of vehicles waiting to cross the bridge around the Midsummer holidays.

A six-kilometer line of cars waiting to cross the Salacgriva Bridge apparently formed last weekend when thousands of Latvians and Lithuanians were on their way to the Weeknd concert in Tallinn.

Heavy traffic before the Salacgriva Bridge. Source: ERR

The bridge has not been renovated as the Limbazi Municipality to which it belongs has not been able to come up with the necessary resources, while Latvia's Ministry of Transport has refused to take ownership of the bridge, Dagnis Straubergs, who heads the local government, said.

"We are betting on state subsidies and have repeatedly asked the ministry to take ownership of the bridge, while they have so far refused. But we need to realize that the bridge has international significance and is part of the TEN-T transport network. The local community is suffering, of course, while we know that the bridge also caters to international transport, both military and civilian," Straubergs remarked.

Latvia hopes to secure funds with which to renovate the bridge from the EU's military mobility fund, Ligita Austrupe, the Latvian ministry's undersecretary for transport, said.

Limbazi local government head Straubergs said that the tender should be opened post haste so that construction could begin later this year. The work is estimated to take a year and a half. But first the matter of financing needs to be resolved, they remarked.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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