Latvia looks east on transport

  • 2011-04-12
  • TBT Staff

Augulis met with his Russian counterpart to discuss major infrastructure projects connecting the two countries.

RIGA - Latvia has announced plans to build a four-lane highway to Moscow while bucking criticism from the EU that it has been slow to implement the long awaited "Rail-Baltica" project that would connect the Baltic States with Western Europe.

At a meeting last week between Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis and his Russian counterpart, Igor Levitin, Augulis said that Latvia would make the project a priority.

Latvian business news portal reported that the ministry hopes that as much as 85 percent of the funding for the project will come from the EU cohesion fund, while 15 percent would come from the state budget.

The country has already begun preparting construction of sections of the highway that connect the western Latvian towns of Ventspils and Liepaja with the Russian border. The project is planned for completion by the end of 2018.

Augulis and Levitin also discussed the possibilty of constructing a high-speed railway connecting Riga with the Russian capital.

The news came on the heels of criticisms by EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas that a lack of political will in Latvia has endangered the Rail-Baltica project.

''Europe already has several bad examples, where political decisions have been made, but there is no money. So these projects never take off and lead to unpleasant situations,'' Kallas said in an interview with Latvijas Avize.