Daugavpils still trying to find funds for bridge reconstruction

In Daugavpils, the Unity Bridge (Vienības tilts) is a major artery that plays an important role both for the city and the wider European Transport Network, as well as for military mobility purposes. 

However, since an application for the reconstruction of the bridge in the European Military Mobility dual-purpose project program did not receive support, the Daugavpils City Council has turned to three Latvian ministries to find funds for the necessary reconstruction of the bridge.

On average, approximately 15,000 vehicles cross the Daugavpils Vienības Bridge every day. The transport infrastructure of Daugavpils is connected to both the main national highway A6 and the main national highways A13 and A14. The bridge is busy and vital to the city, which has parts on both sides of the broad River Daugava.

On the left bank of the Daugava live both a significant part of the population of the Upper Daugava region and more than 7,000 inhabitants of the city of Daugavpils itself.

"The Unity Bridge is the only bridge that connects several neighborhoods of Daugavpils. It is an important piece of infrastructure both for transit flow and for residents to get from their place of residence to their place of work and other important places. The infrastructure is worn out, all the necessary opinions have been gathered, there is also technical documentation," Daina Krīviņa, head of the Development Department of the Daugavpils City Council, said. 

"According to expert opinion, the bridge is not in good condition. And it will not get better with time. We are carrying out maintenance work on the bridge, it is not collapsing yet," said Krīviņa.

As previously reported by LSM a year ago, since 1989, when the 90-year old bridge was last reconstructed, no large-scale improvement works have been carried out. The bridge requires extensive restoration.

"This is very important for the economic development of our city, which in turn will also contribute to the safety factor," said Valerijs Kononovs, the non-partisan Daugavpils council deputy chairman.

More than 5 million euros are needed to restore the unit bridge. Therefore, last year Daugavpils City Council applied to the the European Commission within the framework of military mobility funding. However, the funding was refused.

"The project was not approved, [though] the repair of the Salacgriva bridge [in northern Latvia] was approved. Therefore, a few weeks ago, the Daugavpils City Council sent applications to three ministries – the Ministries of Finance, Transport and Environmental Protection and Regional Development – saying that we have a high readiness investment project and that the municipality is ready to implement it," said Daugavpils mayor Andrejs Elksniņš.

"The impact of the geopolitical situation on different regions of the European Union differs. The countries bordering Russia and Belarus face security challenges that affect business, services and transport. Therefore, the support measures should be such that they can respond to various crises and flexibly adapt to them by strengthening the eastern border of the European Union in the context of the threats and consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine," said Jevgenija Butņicka, director of the State department of Sustainable Development Planning.

Thus, if the bridge is deemed suitable for dual-use infrastructure, the planned support for the eastern border of the European Union could be an additional financial source for the reconstruction of the bridge. If the funding for this program is accepted at the European level, the reconstruction of Daugavpils Vienības bridge as a priority object could be included in the next planning period of the European Union from 2027 – so there would potentially be another three-year wait.

However, the Daugavpils council hopes for more urgent financing from European funds within the framework of the existing program.

"It is a project of high readiness, and we are also pushing for it because EU funds are not very well used during this period. Therefore, there is a chance that it will be met," Valerijs Kononovs said.

"The municipality continues to press the responsible ministries. The bridge is a very important artery both within the framework of the city, within the framework of the TEN-T or European Transport Network, and also within the framework of military mobility," stated Elksniņš.


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