TALLINN – The Estonian government on Thursday approved the maintenance plan for national roads for the years 2023-2026, which lays down the principles of road maintenance and indicative funding amounts by cost type, as well as provides an overview of the planned activities to improve national roads until 2026.
The plan was drawn up on the basis of proposals from the Transport Administration for the years 2023-2026, meaning the years covered by the current state budget strategy.
"Road maintenance has been underfunded for years, and besides, the ongoing war and the energy crisis have put the whole sector under great pressure. However, even under these conditions, the entire road network needs substantial investment. Additional funds are needed for the development of the Tallinn-Parnu-Ikla and Tallinn-Tartu-Luhamaa roads in line with EU requirements by 2030, as well as for the surfacing of gravel roads to make them dust-free, the reconstruction of accident-prone road sections and the introduction of intelligent transport systems," Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut said in a press release.
In total, the financial volume of the road maintenance plan for the next four years is 643.2 million euros, which includes 486.3 million euros from the state budget, 2.5 million euros from the Cohesion Fund performance reserve for 2014-2020 and 118.2 million euros of Cohesion Fund funding for 2021-2027. It also includes 30.1 million euros for the construction of multilevel crossings of the Rail Baltic railway and national roads, which is financed from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), as well as six million euros in other direct subsidies from the European Union.
Compared to the previous road maintenance plan, set out for the years 2021-2030, state budget funding earmarked for the maintenance of national roads will increase by 3.4 million euros in 2023, and will then decrease by 40.7 million euros in 2024. As a result of the addition of the Cohesion Fund monies for 2021-2027 and CEF funds, the total amount will increase by 54 million euros next year and by 4.5 million euros in 2024.
"There is no doubt that in the coming years we will have to take a critical look at the current funding principles for road maintenance and find additional money to maintain and develop the road network," the minister added.
The most important national road projects in the coming years are the Libatse-Nurme 2+2 section, the Parnu-Uulu 2+2 section and the Sauga-Parnu 2+2 section of the Tallinn-Parnu-Ikla road, the Harku multilevel intersection on Tallinn-Paldiski road and the Neanurme-Pikknurme 2+1 section on the Tallinn-Tartu-Voru-Luhamaa road.
The total length of Estonia's national roads as of Jan. 1 this year was 16,933 kilometers, to which, depending on winter conditions, up to 88 kilometers of temporary ice roads are added.