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May island ferry passenger numbers up, roadwork to cause delays to Saaremaa

The ferry Piret serves the Virtsu-Kuivastu route connecting the mainland to Saaremaa via the island of Muhu.
The ferry Piret serves the Virtsu-Kuivastu route connecting the mainland to Saaremaa via the island of Muhu. Source: (Margus Muld/ERR)

According to initial data, TS Laevad in May served four percent more passengers on year on its routes connecting the mainland to the Western islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. Passengers traveling to Saaremaa can expect delays due to roadwork near Virtsu, however.

TS Laevad, the ferry-operating subsidiary of the Estonian state-owned Port of Tallinn, served a total of 188,343 passengers and 82,108 vehicles on the routes connecting Saaremaa and Hiiumaa to the mainland in May — including 137,945 passengers and 61,231 vehicles on the Virtsu-Kuivastu route and 50,398 passengers and 20,877 vehicles on the Rohuküla-Heltermaa route — indicating increases in passenger and vehicle numbers of four and six percent, respectively.

According to Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications data, in May of last year, the two routes served a total of 180,319 passengers and 77,332 vehicles, including 133,425 passengers and 58,122 vehicles on the Virtsu-Kuivastu route and 46,894 passengers and 19,210 vehicles on the Rohuküla-Heltermaa route.

The first five months of 2017 combined have seen the total number of passengers and vehicles served by the two routes increase eight percent on year.

The greatest number of passengers, or 676, were served by the Tiiu on the 5:30 p.m. departure from Heltermaa on May 21, while the greatest number of vehicles, or 147, were served by the Piret on the 12:55 p.m. departure from Kuivastu on the same day.

Roadwork near Virtsu to cause increased travel times

Construction work began on the Kõmsi-Virtsu portion of Risti-Virtsu Highway on Monday, which means that for the next few months, traveling to Saaremaa will take longer than usual.

The Estonian Road Administration announced that no detours have been planned for that section of the highway, but that drivers must take traffic restrictions in construction areas and on unpaved sections of road into account.

"We will try to take peculiarities arising from Saaremaa ferry traffic and large events taking place in Saaremaa into account in our traffic management," said Estonian Road Administration Western regional project manager Urmas Robam, who added that they would work together with the builders to try to ensure 1+1 lane traffic on such days.

Robam also noted that material left over from the primary roadwork would be used to pave over approximately 5.5 kilometers of the Kõmsi-Mõisaküla-Salevere gravel road.

The total contract cost of the planned construction work, which will be carried out by TREV-2 Grupp AS, is €4.2 million. Construction is expected to be completed in November.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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