Latvian high-speed road network planned for 2040

The Latvian State Roads network development strategy calls for the creation of high-speed roads, which would be the backbone of the network between the largest Latvian cities, announced the Ministry of Transport on December 6.

Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits (New Conservative Party) discussed Latvian road network development for 2020-2040 with transport planners and experts. Transport Ministry and Latvian State Roads experts worked together on the strategy for long-term road network development. 

“Previously road development was planned for three-year periods, taking into account access to funding. A well-thought-out vision for the future is important for planning and justifying the necessary funding both at the national and European development,” said Linkaits.

The high-speed roads will have a median and two lanes in each direction. The limited-access roads will include overpasses for safety, as well as a parallel road network. Transport Ministry Road Transport Department Director Tālivaldis Vecitrāns told Latvian Radio that the speed limit on these roads could be 110-130 kilometers per hour. Plans also include the development of communication corridors, which would help supply various transport systems and provide 5G infrastructure. 

“Via Baltica well be developed as the main transit artery for the connection to Western Europe and Scandinavia. Works have already begun on the construction of a bypass around Iecava and Bauska,” said Latvian State Roads Board Member Mārtiņš Lazdovskis.

Urban planning and mobility student Viesturs Krūmiņliepa told Latvian Radio that going by the Estonian example, he calculated that one kilometer of the high-speed road could cost 4-5 million euros, meaning the Rīga - Rēzekne road could cost one billion euros.

"We have to consider what's more important for the regions - a few highways or improved local roads?" said Krūmiņliepa.

He also said that elsewhere in the world highway speeds have been decreased to minize CO2 emissions. He supports connecting Rīga to the regions, but says there are many considerations.

As previously reported, €200m from the state budget can be invested into road maintenance as part of the territorial reform, said Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits (New Conservative Party) appearing on LTV July 22.

He also said that the excise tax on fuel could be raised to secure road funding in Latvia.

Linkaits said that over the course of the reform it will become clear which roads should be repaired, so that the municipalities that are being merged would also be connected with appropriate road infrastructure.

The minister said that it is impossible to secure the €1 billion road maintenance funding asked by the municipalities. Some money could be found for the task, however. "I hope that we can find funding from the state budget as part of the reform. We can talk about some €200 million," he said, adding that discussions have been held in government over the matter.

The decision, according Linkaits, would be in accord with the movement “towards a more environment-friendly public transport and transport in general.”

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