Poor quality of paving slabs ubiquitous

Municipalities renovate roads and sidewalks with concrete paving slabs, either with their own funds or by procuring EU financing. However, this paving is often damaged within the first year and even the first month of use.

Rīga, which is just about the capital of cobblestones, has little to show for its paving slabs. 

This week construction preparation works were started at Krišjāņa Barona street, where it is planned to replace the tiling of the street and to create a cycling trail. The sidewalks are to be renovated as well. 

A few years ago, a part of the sidewalk of the Prāga street was repaired by the central bus station. By now, it has been severely cracked already. Holes have formed on Vaļņu street, especially by the Galerija Centrs and farther on towards the bus station.

Inhabitants of Rīga criticize the new paving, noting that concrete paving slabs wear away fast in our climate, making it hard for walking or cycling. Besides, it does little to improve the public face of the city.

Usually the paving slabs are given guarantees of two or three years, however, sometimes they don't come into force.

Most often the paving is damaged where there has been work carried out under the sidewalks, said Edmunds Valpēters of the Transport Department of the Rīga Municipality. After a ditch has been dug somewhere, the sidewalk settles down, and this type of damage is only covered by a two-year warranty.

The other municipalities also use paving slabs. "By using EU funding, we have done a lot to restore streets and sidewalks," said a representative of the Jelgava municipality Vilis Ļevčenoks. For example, Filozofu street, Zirgu street and Stacijas street have been repaired. The first problems appeared before the guarantee ran out. 

"We had two cases where the sidewalk was paved without much quality, and they were discovered a year and a half or two years after it was paved," said Levčenoks. The paving was repaired with a guarantee, and in some places for stretches of up to 50 square meters.

European funding for this goal is used by other cities as well. The paving slabs used in Daugavpils has started cracking and rupturing. Vadims Semoņenko, deputy head of the city's Communal Management Authority, it happened because constructors rushed towards the deadline and paved the slabs in bad weather. Now the situation has become better, and the paving has been repaired, as the constructors fulfill their guarantees, according to Semoņenko.

People can inform the authorities about sidewalks and streets that need repairs by calling toll-free numbers or sending email to municipalities, which say they take the complaints into account when deciding what to repair next.

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