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Vilnius launches western bypass

Vilnius western bypass
Multi-level junction on Vilnius western bypass. Photo: City of Vilnius

The City of Vilnius has just launched the western bypass, a new addition to the city’s transport infrastructure that significantly changes the traffic situation in the Lithuanian capital. The investment has been co-financed with loans the municipality received from NIB.

The western bypass is a key component in implementing a strategy for the development of the municipal road infrastructure in the city of more than half a million inhabitants.

“The main idea with the new bypass is to reduce the transit traffic through the city centre, cut travel time and improve the quality of commuting”, says Linas Bartusevičius, the head of the municipality’s infrastructure division.

Vilnius western bypass will also help shorten the travel time between Lithuania’s two biggest cities, Vilnius and Kaunas. The bypass forms part of the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network, which runs through Lithuania and links Belarus and Ukraine to Baltic Sea ports.

“This will help reduce the environmental footprint of the daily traffic and diverge it from the historical core of the city”, Mr Bartusevičius continues.

He explains that the current traffic infrastructure in Vilnius has not been able to cope with the constantly increasing heavy traffic for decades now.

“The city centre, including the Old Town, has been a major bottleneck in the system and is all too often paralysed by increasing levels of congestion every year.”

The five-kilometre bypass includes six viaducts and a pedestrian bridge. The investment, totalling EUR 105 million, also provides for installing over a thousand light posts, building fifteen kilometres of rainwater drainage pipes and laying twenty kilometres of electrical cables.

The construction of Vilnius western bypass began in 2009. At stages finished earlier, the city built new intersections, a transport tunnel, and extended two streets.

A six-lane road will substantially cut the travel time across the city. The bypass has been designed without stops and allows a maximum speed of 80 kilometres per hour. This feature is expected to reduce the travel time by an average of 65%, fuel consumption by 9% and carbon emissions by 10%.

The investment has proved one of the most successful infrastructure development projects in Lithuania in recent years. Comparing by car load, 56,000 a day on the finished sections, the bypass exceeds the effectiveness of the Vilnius–Kaunas highway more than two-fold.

“Our intention to redirect heavy and transit traffic to bypasses or high-speed roads is gradually becoming a reality. The new bypass is most certainly an achievement. Still, there is a lot more that needs to be built to keep Vilnius transport infrastructure up to date”, says Mr Bartusevičius.

Loans from international financiers, such as NIB, play an important role in structuring financing packages for municipal infrastructure projects in Vilnius. Since 2009, the Bank has provided five loans with a total amount of EUR 75 million for upgrading the city’s infrastructure, environmental and energy efficiency projects.

Among other investment projects, NIB’s financing has been earmarked for upgrading access to Vilnius international airport, reconstructing one of the most intensive high-speed streets in Vilnius, as well as modernising sludge and wastewater treatment and improving energy efficiency at schools, clinics and other public buildings.

 
Jan 2017
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