TALLINN – The new Estonian coalition will initiate a national designated spatial plan for a bridge to the island of Muhu, the completion of which would mean Saaremaa, the country's biggest island, getting a road link to the mainland, according to remarks made by the chairman of the Center Party and the new coalition's prime minister candidate Juri Ratas on Saturday.
"In a landmark agreement, we support the initiation of a national designated spatial plan to chart the possibilities for building a bridge to Saaremaa," Ratas said in his speech at a meeting of the extended board of the Center Party, presenting the new coalition government to be formed by Center with the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) and Isamaa.
He said that of course the ruling coalition will ask the opinion of locals both on the islands and on the mainland.
The chairman of the Center Party hinted that, in principle, the new government coalition is prepared to borrow money for large-scale infrastructure projects.
As things stand now, the initiative of establishing a road connection to Saaremaa has been driven by businessman Raivo Hein, who said in January 2018 that he expects the work to start already in 2020 provided that the attitude of the government is favorable of the project. The bridge could be completed in three years at a cost of up to 500 million euros, according to Hein.
The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications meanwhile said in last April that the implementation of Hein's project would require an almost two times bigger subsidy from the government than is paid at present for ferry services, plus a toll to be paid by users over a period of approximately 50 years.