TALLINN - Not only has a decision to build a new bridge or repair the old one spanning the Narva River between Estonia and Russia been delayed for two years, but there is no bilateral agreement at all, a leading daily has reported.
The existing bridge in Narva needs massive repairs and is seen as the cause for continuous bottlenecks at the increasingly busy border crossing zone.
"A new bridge across the Narva River would solve the problems. The most logical site would be at Riigikula, eight kilometers out of Narva in the direction of Narva-Joesuu," the governor of the northeastern Ida-Viru County, Ago Silde, said.
"A bilateral commission dealing with the bridge project met just once, but no conclusions or decisions resulted from it," Silde said.
There still is no agreement on the building of the bridge, he added.
"The decision has been awaited for a long time, the first preliminary project was drafted already back in the 1980s," he said.
As things stand, the bridge is unable to cope with the fast-growing international transport flows, and transport causes noise, exhaust gases, vibration and traffic problems in central Narva. The border stations of Narva on the Estonian and Ivangorod on the Russian side were built to handle 100 trucks a day; nowadays, however, around 400 trucks cross the border every day and lines at the border have grown to two days.
The European Union funded studies and a preliminary project in the spring of 2005 with more than 500,000 euros and is prepared to finance the project in the future as well, the governor said. The building of the bridge and expansion of the border checkpoint would cost an estimated 1 billion kroons (64 million euros).