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Road maintenance funding to fall sharply over coming years in Estonia

The Tallinn - Tartu highway.
The Tallinn - Tartu highway. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

According to the Estonian Transport Administration's latest plans, an average of €115 million per year for the next four years will be allocated for the maintenance of national roads. However, this amount is just over half the €210 million needed to maintain and slightly improve existing road conditions.

Over the coming year in particular, road maintenance funding is expected to fall sharply. Next year, a total of €153 million has been earmarked for investment in the maintenance and development of Estonia's national roads, which is significantly less than in previous years.

The road maintenance plan does foresee an increase in funding, though it will not reach the levels of previous years.

A large part of the amount invested in the road maintenance plan both this year and next year will be used for viaducts and junctions crossing the Rail Baltica railway line. That means there will be little in the way of other developments.

€51 million of the total €153 million allocated for road maintenance next year will be used on for Rail Baltica viaducts for instance, meaning €8.4 million-worth of other developments are planned.

This leaves €93.4 million remaining for road maintenance and repair. According to the Transport Authority however, in reality, around €210 million per year ought to be invested to ensure Estonia's road network is sufficiently maintained.

In the coming years too, the main focus of investments will also be related to Rail Baltica viaducts. At the same time however, annual road maintenance costs may increase over the next four years, reaching €179 million by 2027, of which €141 million would be needed for maintaining the road network.

In its road maintenance plan, the Transport Administration notes that the condition of Estonia's national roads has improved over the years, but that from 2021 onwards those improvement have stopped. The condition of the country's road surfaces is generally very good, particularly on main roads. However, more than 2,000 kilometers of secondary or minor roads remain in poor or very poor condition.

From 2021 onwards, the amount of funding for road maintenance will decrease significantly. Therefore, the Transport Administration expects the condition of all types of road Estonia to suffer from degradation in the near future. The condition of existing bridges has also deteriorated due to lack of funding, according to the Transport Administration.

The lack of funding for road maintenance may also lead to higher costs in the future, as the Transport Administration estimates that it is significantly more expensive to repair than simply maintain them.

The Transport Administration also highlighted that the lack of funding could jeopardize the upgrading of the Tallinn-Luhamaa and Tallinn-Ikla roads. Both of which are included in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), with necessary road safety and environmental standards therefore expected to be met by 2030.

According to the Transport Administration, the low level of investment will also impact on targets to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the country's roads and may have a negative impact on regional development.

The total length of Estonia's national roads is almost 17,000 km.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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