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40,000 cubic meters of snow removed from Tallinn streets this week

Snow clearing in Tallinn.
Snow clearing in Tallinn. Source: ERR

Tallinn's streets are becoming narrower, as the recent heavy snowfall has led to a rapid increase in the number of roadside snow piles. This week already, 40,000 cubic meters of snow have been removed from the streets of the Estonian capital.

There is so much snow this year that there is no room for more piles inside the city. There is some space in storage areas, however preparations are already underway to start hauling the snow there out of Tallinn.

Friday morning saw a decent amount of extra snow, with the heaviest snowfall reserved for the morning rush hour.

"Between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., more than 10 centimeters of snow fell at a time, and during rush hour the road maintenance machines are also stuck in traffic jams. In most places it is impossible to do road maintenance during rush hour," said Andres Agukas, board member of EKT Teed, which is responsible for road maintenance and cleaning in Tallinn.

According to Agukas, this winter has seen much more snow than last year. Although half the winter is still to come, more than half of the salt required for road maintenance has already been spread onto the roads.

According to snow clearer Kalle Printsmann, it is very difficult to do his job in Tallinn as road users are often unsure of how to deal with his vehicle in certain situations, such as when he needs to clear a turning lane before then continuing into another lane.

"I've got it out of the way a long time before, then I'll come back to my lane. He'll flash his lights and then press on, because actually, according to the traffic rules, he's got right of way. But if I had to brake for every one of those drivers, it would take twice the time to get the job done. This needs to be taken into account, because we still have specific hours when we have to clear the road," said Printsmann.

The most difficult roads to clear are the ones that are blocked off and where there is practically nowhere to shovel the excess snow.

EKT Teed will start removing the snow only after receiving an order from the City of Tallinn. According to Tarmo Sule, head of the Tallinn Urban Environment and Public Works Department, the snow will first be removed from intersections and crossings to ensure better visibility.

"We will remove snow where it is the most compacted, and so the last priority will be the parking areas. The current maintenance code states that if a parked vehicle is obstructing maintenance work, then the vehicle owner has to pick up a shovel and clear one meter of snow," said Sulg.

From the morning onwards, its mostly the debris that us simply swept up. The proper cleaning takes place late at night, when there are only a few cars on the road.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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