Mayor calls Northern Corridor plans ‘science fiction’

Take note – story published 8 years ago

The city’s future motorway – known as the Northern Transport Corridor is “closer to science fiction than reality,” Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs said in an interview with LTV news program Rīta Panorāma Tuesday

In response to the question whether the project would still be able to attract EU funding, Ušakovs told LTV that the preliminary planning was only going to cover the first two segments of the project for now.

“We’re talking about the project design works right now and we need to be realistic. None of us is convinced that we will ever be able to get full financing in order to build even at least the first and second stages of the corridor. I look at the first stage more or less optimistically, that being the doubling-up alternate route of the Brivibas street artery. There I think it’s possible we’ll be able to attract Europe’s money and in more or less ten years build it.

Regarding the crossing, the tunnel that everyone is talking about, I have a much more skeptical attitude towards it,” the mayor went on to say.

But it was the longest-term goals of the project Ušakovs expressed the deepest doubts over:

“The third and fourth stages, especially the fourth stage in light of it affecting other local governments entirely, I think that it’s much closer to science fiction and in this situation we shouldn’t be experimenting with the possible risk of not being able to take advantage of European co-financing for the design and planning work for a job that isn’t going to happen for, say, twenty years or so. I think it would be very wrong,” he said.

In February 2014 the EU ruled it would support to the tune of €1.5 million planning studies for the 30-kilometer long east-west motorway to cross the old historic town center of Riga, joining its Freeport and the Via Baltica highway on the east from Berģi and the Riga bypass road with the E22 highway through Jelgava on to Lithuania to the west.

The detailed design plans are needed in order to begin work in 2016 on Segment 1 (Brivibas street alternate) of the Corridor to pave way for a robust alternative for transit traffic that will improve local environmental conditions and enhance Riga’s attraction as a transport hub.

The implementation schedule for planning the integration of Riga’s downtown traffic lanes with the Freeport supply lines expires in December of 2015, thus prompting the Riga City Council’s Development Department to scrap budgeting plans for the design and planning work for Segments 3 and 4, to avoid possibly jeopardizing the EU co-financing prospects for future stages of the project.

The long-term vision for the project provides for four segments, three of which are almost entirely located within Riga’s administrative territory, while the fourth segment crosses part of the administrative jurisdictions of the city of Jurmala and district of Babīte.

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