No money for Saaremaa bridge

  • 2013-10-07
  • From wire reports

TALLINN - The Estonian government sent the issue of building a permanent connection between the Estonian mainland and the biggest island Saaremaa, which has been in planning for 17 years already, back to the county government for planning, which means that the project will be postponed for years, at best, the local Saarte Haal newspaper writes.

The signals have become more frequent recently that building a permanent connection, a bridge most likely, between the mainland and the island of Muhu, which already has a permanent connection, a dam, with Saaremaa, is becoming more unlikely. The government has said that there is no money to build the bridge and none is coming anywhere soon.

Last week Postimees wrote that the Economy and Communication Ministry has compiled a list of big transport projects, among which a selection has to be made for what to build in 2014–2020, and what not to do. The timeframe coincides with the next European Union budgetary period, i.e. that’s where the majority of the money should come from. The bridge is on the list but not a dime is planned for it. “We can say quite boldly that it has been added on the list for show. Actually, no one assumes that it will be built,” wrote Postimees journalist Mikk Salu.

Economy and Communications Minister Juhan Parts also made hints about the bridge issue being off the agenda when he said, in an interview about shipping traffic recently, that the permanent connection isn’t very likely anymore. “I think that it [the shipping connection between the mainland and islands] is a service of such high quality, the result of which demand for the bridge is in a falling trend. The bridge discussion emerged from bad service, after all,” said Parts.