Rīga bridges' reconstruction could start next year

The reconstruction of Vanšu and Zemitāna bridges in Rīga could start at the end of next year or the beginning of 2025, Rīga Mayor Vilnis Ķirsis (New Unity) said in an interview with Latvian Television on September 8.

He acknowledged that bridges are a weak point in Rīga, but the capital's traffic infrastructure has had insufficient investments for more than a decade. Four bridge projects are currently being developed – for Vanšu, VEF, Zemitāna bridges and Vairoga Street transmission.

“At the end of next year or early the year after that, the reconstruction of the Zemitāna and Vanšu bridges could begin, but the Eastern Highway should be completed so that the truck flow can finally be diverted from the river bank,” Ķirsis noted.

If the right bank is sorted with the Eastern Highway, truck traffic remains a problem on the left bank.

“We see trucks driving along the National Library, along Imanta and Iļģuciems to the harbor. There is no solution here, a highway from Babīte to Bolderāja should be built so residential neighborhoods can be bypassed, but that's a decade's perspective,” the mayor said.

Next year, repairs of streets and bridges, apart from the large €700 million projects currently in different stages, would need around €45 million - an amount that would be the limit for the streets to collapse at a slower pace than renovating them.

Speaking about the idea that parts of the 11. novembra embankment along the Daugava could be given to pedestrians and cafes next summer, Ķirsis said: “It's the city's very best, most beautiful place, and the sin that it's a highway right now. The idea is that in summer, for two months, when it would least interfere with movement, we would leave the territory for various summer activities, maintaining movement along one lane in each direction closer to the Old Town.”

He believes the embankment as a whole should be “given back to people” in the future. There has also been talk about the construction of a tunnel below the waterfront, but it would be very expensive – the city now has more acute needs.

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