Latvian government backs plan for 1,000 km of high-speed roads by 2040

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The Latvian government on June 29 supported a Transport Ministry plan that promises more than 1,000 kilometers of high-speed highways will be completed in Latvia by the year 2040.

Latvia's national road development strategy from 2020 to 2040 envisages the creation of a road network that should allow the outskirts of Rīga to be reached from all other major cities in the country within two hours. It is planned to rebuild the country's current main roads with their current top speed of 90 km/h into high-speed roads, with a maximum speed of 130 km/h.


Autocelu strategija 2040.docx


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In all, some 1,055 kilometers of road are earmarked for upgrade in the plan (attached, in Latvian).

According to the plan, there will be three phases of activity, each doubling the activity of the preceding one.

In the ten-year period from 2020 to 2030 194.3 km of high-speed roads will built, then in the five-year period from 2030 to 2035 there will be 224.0 km of high-speed roads built. The final period, from 2035 to 2040 envisages the construction of no less than 637.5 km of highway.

The first stage of the major infrastructure works is scheduled to be the completion of the Rīga orbital road as a high-speed highway. At present, it remains a single lane in each direction and with large numbers of heavy goods vehicles using it on routes between Estonia in the north and Lithuania in the south, bypassing Rīga can be a lengthy and frustrating process.

The new high-speed routes will be dual carriageways, allowing for easier passing. The reconstruction costs of the Rīga bypass, including a combined road and railway bridge over the Daugava, amount to approximately 540 million euros, and it is planned to realize the plan by 2030.

However, there appear to be plenty of potential for the ambitious plans to fall of schedule. The development of an environmental impact assessment for the reconstruction of road sections and further development of a construction project takes approximately 2 years. Expropriation of land requires 2-3 years, which in turn can only started if the construction plan has been approved.

Whether Latvia will have more than 1,000 km of high-speed dual carriageway by 2040, only the next 19 years will tell. Currently the total length of the country's main roads is 1,756 km. Of these, 15.3% or almost 264 km of asphalted roads are classified as being in poor or very poor condition. Away from the main roads, unasphalted gravel roads are still extremely common. 

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