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New Smart Road in Põlva divides local opinion

Smart crosswalk along Kesk tänav in the Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva.
Smart crosswalk along Kesk tänav in the Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva. Source: Mart Suurkask/Bercman Technologies, Martti Rõigas/Põlva municipal government

A new Smart Road in the Southeastern Estonian town of Põlva has met with both its plaudits and its criticism, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday.

The two-and-a-half-kilometer long Smart Road in Põlva, principal town in the county of the same name, boasts 14 crosswalks with cameras and sensors which warn approaching drivers of pedestrians crossing the road, and also measure average vehicle speeds.

In the future, the sensors should be able to communicate with vehicles independently.

Opinions are divided on the wisdom of the use of funds to this end.

Põlva Rural Municipal Mayor Martti Rõigas (Reform) said: "Since this is Põlva's main thoroughfare and schools operate here, we are talking about making the way to school safe for not only around 1,000 children, but also for all other residents."

A lit-up smart crosswalk in the dark, part of the completed Smart Road project in the Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva. Source: Mart Suurkask/Bercman Technologies, Martti Rõigas/Põlva municipal government

One of those residents, Kahro, approved of the development, saying he was: "Rather positive about it; now at least drivers can see something is flashing, meaning someone is coming across the road. In my opinion, it's a perfectly fine thing to have."

The main opposition to the Smart Road comes arises right there, with the opposition, some of whom do not consider the project an expedient use of public funds even as the road was approved at a council vote.

The completed Smart Road project in the Southeastern Estonian city of Põlva. Source: Mart Suurkask/Bercman Technologies, Martti Rõigas/Põlva municipal government

Janno Simso (Eesti 200), an opposition deputy on Põlva council, said: "The first negative with the road was its budget of €170,000, of which almost half came from the municipality's share, and half from the EU."

"Yet ultimately these funds are all of ours, while a length 2.5 kilometers, given the traffic density in Põlva, does not look all that 'smart' after all," he added.

Listed tech company Bercman Technologies developed the Smart Road.

Põlva itself has a population of around 5,500, the entire rural municipality around 13,500.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Leevi Lillemäe.

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