Tartu residents worried by low railing at Emajõgi riverfront promenade

New promenade built on the left bank of the Emajõgi River in Central Tartu.
New promenade built on the left bank of the Emajõgi River in Central Tartu. Source: ERR

Work on Tartu's completely overhauled riverfront promenade on the left bank of the Emajõgi River has recently entered the home stretch. The river bisecting the heart of Estonia's second city has been brought closer by the project, but some Tartu residents are worried by just how low the railing is along a prominent section of it.

More than half a year's worth of construction work on the left bank, spanning from the Arch Bridge (Kaarsild) to Peace Bridge (Rahu sild) appears to be finished. With a price tag of €1.7 million for the city, one of the main objectives of the new promenade project was to improve its accessibility.

"Previously there were some challenging steps in somewhat bad shape there, but now there are ramps there, meaning people can actually reach from the top level all the way down to the bottom level," said Tartu Deputy Mayor Elo Kiivet.

"The space has been opened up more, and along the lower level there's room to hang out and various seating and the river view has literally been brought closer," she highlighted. "Fencing will remain up until November 17 due to landscaping work, but the new area is already catching the eye of pedestrians on the Arch Bridge."

"There are those three restaurants on the other side there, so it creates a coherent feeling," commented Reelika, one such passer-by. "Now it's like one coherent central riverfront area; it's great! I love it."

"The Emajõgi River is so dear to me," acknowledged Ants, another city resident. "This is very, very beautiful."

What has raised the most questions among Tartu residents, however, is the low railing chosen for the waterfront along the most prominent section of the new promenade; many find it dangerously low.

"What caught my eye was that when people start walking along here, they can end up falling in the water there," Meelis noted.

"As a parent it really does seem too low," said Maarja. "I definitely wouldn't allow my young children near there."

According to the deputy mayor, a higher railing wasn't installed there to allow for better views of the river from the promenade.

"We believe that this danger isn't great enough to outweigh the fact that we can bring the point of contact between people and the river closer together," Kiivet said.

"There won't be any rapid movement at that lowest level," she continued. "It's equivalent to a leisure space; there won't be any lively activity and playgrounds there. The fastest movement will take well above and away from the water. The current low railing is primarily to draw attention [to the edge of the water]. It will be visible from under snow as well, but it isn't explicitly protection, but rather for drawing attention."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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