Busy Rīga bridge closes, congestion increases

The busy Deglava bridge in Rīga closed to traffic early Thursday morning, with drivers forced to seek alternative routes into the city. Predictably, congestion was soon a problem as they sought a rat run to reach work.

As previously reported by LSM, the bridge was closed on the orders of Interior Minister Sandis Ģirģens after an engineering report drew attention to the bridge's poor state of repair - something also noticed by members of the public for some time.

Despite the closure of the bridge to vehicular traffic, it remains open to cyclists and pedestrians. The length of the closure is currently uncertain, being dependent upon a comprehensive assessment of its structural soundness and updated plans for renovation.  

Riga city council had not moved to close the bridge, so the minister stepped in, citing public safety concerns and accusing the council of playing with people's lives.

State Police chief Ints Kuzis backed up the minister on Wednesday, saying "We do not have the right to take a risk".

Latvian Radio reported Thursday morning that journeys into central Rīga were taking 15-20 minutes longer than usual as a result of the road closure.

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