Building the next new section of Tallinn-Tartu Highway narrower than originally planned and without yet adding the final layer of asphalt is economically efficient and will have no negative effects on road safety, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center) said before the Riigikogu on Monday.
"In the search for possibilities to achieve the maximum outcome under conditions of limited resources, the Estonian Road Administration has over the years examined the practices of many countries," Simson said in her response to a question from the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) parliamentary group, citing a section of the highway opened in 2013. "A lane width of 3.5 meters and a two-meter width of reinforced shoulders will allow for seasonally increasing the maximum speed limit, just like on the Aruvalla-Kose section of the road."
MPs from the opposition party had referred to a regulation concerning road design according to which the width of the Kose-Ardu and Ardu-Võõbu sections must be 3.75 meters per lane and the width of the road shoulder two meters.
The design projects for the respective sections of the highway set the width of the road at 3.5 meters per lane, 25 centimeters less than required by the regulation, and the width of the shoulder at two meters, 50 centimeters less than required. The design projects also state that the final layer of asphalt will not be laid.
In her response, the minister cited an opinion by scientists at the Tallinn University of Technology (TTÜ) according to which narrowing of the lanes is cost-effective and will not undermine road safety. In addition, a road shoulder two meters wide is considered sufficient in guidelines drawn up by the Conference of European Directors of Roads as well.
Simson also said that adjourning the laying of the final layer of asphalt effectively means building the road in several stages, and is a practice widely used in Nordic countries; the final layer of asphalt would be laid when traffic intensity increases in the future.
Editor: Aili Vahtla