Prepared for:
The World Bank

Prepared by:
Estonian National Road Agency (ENRA)
in cooperation with the Institute of Geography
University of Tartu

November 20, 1999


1. Introduction
2. Material and methods
3. Background information on heavy metal pollution and possible basic principles for mitigation

3.1 Potential heavy metal pollution of roadsides
3.2 Mitigation measures
4. Potential impacts and concerns, possible mitigation measures and monitoring
4.1 Environmental impacts
4.2 Socio-economic impacts
4.2.1 Tartu Bypass and Tõrvandi Interchange
5. Possible alternative connection between Tallinn and Tartu
6. Public discussion
7. References

1. Introduction

Road reconstruction is one of the strategic priorities of the economic, social and political development in every country. In Estonia, the need for road reconstruction and rehabilitation is urgent because of bad quality of roads and incresing traffic density. The main road Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa, which connects the capital city of Tallinn with the second largest city of Tartu, and with the marginal region in South East Estonia, is in non-reasonable bad situation as well. The need for reconstruction of this road is increasing year by year which is also supported by the road accidents statistics. On the other hand, this road passes some environmentally sensitive areas. Especially the new stretches will provide various conflicts with existing and designated protection areas, habitats with endangered and listed in the international documents species, groundwater and river water quality etc. However, also the rehabilitation of the existing road courses will create certain environmental problems which should be considered and, if needed, followed by mitigation measures and monitoring.

This presents the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa Road Rehabilitation Project – Phase I.

2. Material and Methods

For the completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa Road Rehabilitation Project following materials have been used:

  • Maps and written materials of the Estonian National Road Agency (overview maps in 1:300,000 with existing road, rehabilitation stretches, and planned reconstruction; Feasibility Study for Upgrading of Tallinn-Tartu Road, schemes and design sketches of the Tartu Bypass and Tõrvandi intersection, data on traffic intensity)
  • Estonian Base Map (1:50,000, digital)
  • Topographic maps in 1:10,000 for critical areas (crossing with streams and passing through the villages and agricultural fields)
  • Digital aerial photographs and video-tapes (of the Tartu Bypass area)
  • Soil maps in 1:150,000 and 1:10,000 (for critical areas)
  • Hydrogeological data on groundwater protection and karst
  • Field survey data
  • Data from earlier EIA reports on the alternative road courses
  • Data on heavy metal pollution of roadsides from authors’ earlier studies
  • Literature data

Several field surveys have been undertaken to recognise the critical areas and to evaluate the feasibility of possible mitigation measures for certain problems.

3. Background information on heavy metal pollution and possible basic principles for mitigation

3.1 Potential heavy metal pollution of roadsides

Heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are among the most hazardous pollutants originating from the traffic and accumulating in the roadside zones. While PAH-s, like benso(a)pyrene can be transformed into less hazardous compounds during a relatively short period, the heavy metals stay in the environment for a long time. They will be transported from source areas by air and water to wider areas where they can accumulate in soils, sediments and food chains, ending up in very high and toxic concentrations in organisms of upper trophic levels (incl. humans). Water ecosystems, in which the accumulation rates of heavy metals in sediments and food chains are the highest, are especially endangered.

In Estonia the distribution of heavy metals along the roadsides has been investigated in 80’s when the pollution from leaded gasoline was a complicated environmental problem (Mander, 1983, 1985a, 1985b). Since the beginning of 90’s and especially after regaining the independence in 1991, the share of unleaded fuel has increased and at the moment probably more than 80% of cars drive with the unleaded gasoline. On the other hand, the traffic density on the main roads in Estonia increases every year and particularly on the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road the traffic density has increased since the end of 80’s more than 50%, in the vicinity of towns even several times. Thus, the pollution load from the traffic in the roadside zones remains to be a problem. In addition there is the remnant pollution which stays in some stretches at the level of 80’s and has been even increased. Therefore, the rehabilitation works, especially the removal of shoulder and embankment material, are potentially dangerous for the adjacent ecosystems, especially for rivers and water bodies (Perdikakis and Mason, 1999). Also, in the case of adjacent arable fields, the rehabilitation works should be undertaken with certain restrictions.

Among the large number of heavy metals lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), and zinc (Zn) are the most common ones, which accumulate in roadside zones. Thanks to wide use of unleaded gasoline the lead pollution has been significantly decreased. Cadmium, in contrary, comes mostly from the diesel fuel and therefore its pollution remains at the same level like it has been in 80’s or even shows a decreasing trend. Zinc, which is up to 10 times less hazardous for living organisms than Pb and Cd, originates from tires and is distributed in the roadside with the dust. However, in certain sites of accumulation, the zinc concentration can achieve the critical levels.

Different heavy metals differ on the base of their solubility and movement rates. In comparison with lead and zinc, cadmium shows the highest intensity of movement in soils. Acid conditions enhance the movement ability of all heavy metals and by the pH value of soils less than 4.0; the leaching rate is about double of that in neutral conditions (pH 6-7.5; Dierkes and Geiger, 1999). Cadmium, in contrary to other heavy metals, can be easily washed out also under basic conditions when the pH values exceed 8.5. Due to the acid sulfur depositions (emit mostly from the diesel vehicles) and gaseous nitrogen emissions, the roads and their verges always have acidic environment. Many investigations have demonstrated that also deicing salts (especially NaCl and KCl) can significantly accelerate the leaching (Norrström and Jacks, 1998). Consequently, there are enhanced conditions for the heavy metal leaching from the road shoulders and embankments. Basic concrete, which is used by bridge construction and during the reconstruction works, may result in enhanced cadmium leaching.

There are no direct studies from Estonia on the heavy metal leaching from roadsides and transportation to the rivers and water bodies. However, some investigations suggest that this factor may play an important role in the heavy metal accumulation in river sediments. Figure 1 indicates the influence of the town of Tartu and the former Soviet military airfield in Raadi on the higher heavy metal concentrations in the Emajõgi River bottom sediments. The road traffic impact is suggested by higher metal concentrations downstream from the Kärevere Bridge on the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road (Sults, 1997).

Fig. 1. Heavy metal concentrations in the Emajõgi River bottom sediments. Influence of the town of Tartu and the former Soviet military airfield in Raadi is obvious. Also, the road traffic impact is suggested by higher metal concentrations downstream from the Kärevere Bridge on the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road (adopted from Sults, 1997).

As background information to assess the environmental impact of the road rehabilitation and possible mitigation measures, in the following part an estimation of lead, cadmium and zinc pollution load in the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road is presented.

Table 1. Estimated average concentration of heavy metals (mg kg-1) in embankment and shoulder soils (zone width 3m) of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road.

Traffic intensity (AADT)
(motor vehicles per day)




























The estimation has been made using the measured values and the following formula for calculation (Mander 1983, 1985b):

CHM = a*A*e-b*k + c*A1/3 (1)

where CHM is the average annual pollution load with heavy metals on the road verges (mg kg-1 yr-1); A is the average annual traffic intensity (motor vehicles per day); k is the distance from the asphalt pavement (m); e is the base of the natural logarithm; a, b and c are the coefficients. For Pb, the values of b and c are 0.11 and 0.37, respectively. The value of the coefficient a before the use of unleaded fuels was 0.012, now it is about 0.002. The latter coefficient indicates a pollution load created by the traffic intensity of one vehicle per day. This model has been tested in earlier works (Mander, 1985) and upgraded for current conditions. For Cd and Zn the values of coefficients have been estimated and partially tested. Also, measured heavy metal concentrations in soil samples from the road verges of similar pollution load served as reference data for estimation. Traffic intensity has been estimated by the Estonian National Road Agency.

Estimation of the amount of heavy metals (kg) in the 3m wide embankment (shoulder) zone on both sides of planned rehabilitation stretches of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road is based on the following calculation scheme:

MHM = 2*w*L*d*BD*(CHM(0-20)+CHM(20-50))*λHM/1000 (2)

where MHM is the estimated amount of heavy metals in the upper layer (50cm) of the embankment (shoulder) material (kg); w is the width of the zone (here 3m), L is the length of the stretch to be rehabilitated (m); d is the depth of the embankment (shoulder) material (here 0.5m); BD is the bulk density of the embankment material (here averaged as 1.8 g cm-3); CHM(0-20) is the average concentration of each heavy metal in the top-layer (0-20 cm) of the embankment material interpolated from the Table 1 (e.g., if the estimated traffic density on the particular stretch is 4700 vehicles per day, the interpolated value for Pb, Cd and Zn is 165, 14 and 145 mg kg-1, respectively); CHM(20-50) is the average concentration of each heavy metal in the lower layer (20-50 cm) of the embankment material estimated as 20% of that in the top-layer; λHM is the leaching factor (0.33, 0.2 and 0.33 for Pb, Cd and Zn, respectively); the factor 2 considers both roadside verges, and 1000 is the transformation factor (from grams to kilograms).

Table 2. Estimated amount of heavy metals (tons) in the 3m wide embankment (shoulder) zone on both sides of planned rehabilitation stretches of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road.

Upper layer (50cm) of the embankment material has been taken into account.

Stretch name

Stretch length (km)

Traffic intensity AADT
(vehicles per day)













Ardu- Mustla (Võõbu)
























Käsukonna-Järavere (Imavere)






Imavere-Mõhküla (Bridge over the Põltsamaa River)






Võhmanõmme- Kärevere (Bridge over the Emajõgi River)






Kärevere-Tartu Bypass (Ilmatsalu Circle)






Tartu Bypass (Ilmatsalu Circle- Tõrvandi)


















Võru (Bridge over the Võhandu River)-Luhamaa






Weighed average












Table 2 presents the estimated accumulation of three most relevant heavy metals in the 3m wide embankment (shoulder) zone on both sides of planned rehabilitation stretches of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road. The total amount of Pb, Cd and Zn on the entire embankment zone of rehabilitation is 42.1, 1.03 and 39.6 tons, respectively. It is, of course, a result of very rough estimation, however, it indicates the potential danger of those contaminated roadsides. The most complicate situation will be at the stretches Mäo-Koigi and Võhmanõmme- Kärevere (10.7 and 42.1 km, respectively) because of the intensive traffic (5190 and 3970 vehicles per day, respectively) and potential conflicts with crossing streams and adjacent arable fields. The lowest pollution will be southern from Kambja where the traffic intensity is significantly lower than in the north and the landscape situation supports the buffering of pollutants (riparian buffers, existing wetlands).

3.2 Mitigation measures

Potential pollution of streams and water bodies with heavy metals is the important hazard during the rehabilitation works, especially, when contaminated upper layer from embankments and shoulders will be removed and temporarily distributed adjacent to the road. For this case we recommend to maximally use the buffering capacity of existing wetlands and riparian buffer zones. Many investigations show that the wetland ecosystems are able to purify polluted waters from various compounds (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1993). Also, heavy metals are accumulating in wetlands. In some countries constructed wetlands are effectively used for treating the runoff from roads and urban areas (Dombeck et al., 1998; Scholes et al., 1998). For instance, in a free-surface-flow-constructed wetland for runoff treatment in Sacramento, California, more than 80% of entering heavy metals (Zn, Cu, Pb) was absorbed by sediments and accumulated by wetland plants (Dombeck et al., 1998). Roots of aquatic macrophytes, especially of reed (Phragmites australis), are able to accumulate large amounts of lead, zinc and copper (Scholes et al., 1998). Riparian alder forests and wet grasslands showed high efficiency buffering more than 60-85% of Pb, Cd, Zn and Cu inflow (Knauer and Mander, 1990).

Along the planned stretches of rehabilitation of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road, which are crossing the streams and rivers, the existing riparian zones can be easily used to buffer the polluted water. Ditches should not be entering directly to rivers and smaller streams (Fig. 2B, right side) but opening on the floodplain or natural (semi-natural) riparian grasslands (Fig. 2B, left side). This principle can be also used if the embankment (shoulder) material will be not removed but ditches will be excavated to improve the hydrological conditions along the road.

For the long term perspectives the various constructed wetlands (reedbeds, macrophytes ponds with cattails and reeds) should be established to buffer the road runoff. These are needed for before the entering into the larger rivers (Pirita, Põltsamaa, Pedja, Emajõgi and Võhandu) or their tributaries (Porijõgi). This needs, however, a detail planning and design of these systems.

Distribution of removed shoulder material can be in conflict with the quality of adjacent arable lands. For this case we recommend the buffer zones along the rehabilitation stretches, at which the contaminated material should not be accumulated, even temporarily. The width of these buffers should be at least 5 meters (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Schemes of some typical situations in the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road to be considered during the rehabilitation works. A – contaminated material removed from the shoulders or embankments can not be distributed in the arable fields along the road. The recommended width of the buffer zones is at least 5m. B – ditches should not be entering directly to rivers and smaller streams (right side) but opening on the floodplain or natural (semi-natural) riparian grasslands.

During the operation of the rehabilitated road and also stretches where the reconstruction is completed earlier the distribution of pollutants from the roads remains to be a conflict source. Although the pollution load with lead has significantly decreased due to the wide use of unleaded gasoline in last 10 years (Fig. 3), the stretches with very intensive traffic in the vicinity of Tallinn, Paide and Tartu can receive the pollution load that exceeds the recommended limit for agricultural lands: 10 mg Pb m-2 yr-1 (Mander, 1985b). Beside that, there are other hazardous pollutants (sulfur compounds, nitrogen gases, PAH-s, zinc, cadmium) which can disturb the health of people living close to the roads. On the other hand, roadside hedges, planted in 1950s and 1960’s to control snow, can play a certain buffering role stopping the pollutant fluxes to the neighboring areas (Fig. 3). However, the zone between the road and the hedgerow receives the highest pollution load. Therefore, at those places the planting of vegetables and potatoes should be stopped (see Mander 1985b). As multifunctional landscape elements the roadside hedges consisting mostly of Norway spruce and being partially well managed, should be maintained.

Fig. 3. Lead pollution in the roadside zones with the traffic density of 5000 vehicles per day as estimated using the Formula 1 for the period of leaded gasoline and for the present situation. At the higher pollution level the load increased between the hedgerow and road and slightly decreased behind the hedgerow (after Mander, 1983). Hedgerow is indicated by black rectangle.

4. Potential impacts and concerns, possible mitigation measures and monitoring

This part gives a short overview about the important potential environmental and socio-economic impacts and concerns of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa Road Rehabilitation Project.

Most important activities and rehabilitation works planned and to be considered are as following:

  • (1) bridge widening and culvert lengthening
  • (2) bridge paving
  • (3) bridge painting
  • (4) drainage works
  • (5) roadway lane and shoulder widening
  • (6) reconstruction of road sub-grade
  • (7) pavement milling
  • (8) paving/re-paving
  • (9) equipment maintenance and fueling
  • (10) waste disposal
  • (11) operation of improved 2-lane highway system

4.1 Environmental impacts

(1) Bridge widening and culvert lengthening may result in following negative environmental impacts.

  • Work within wetted area of watercourse may negatively affect fish habitat

To avoid this negative impacts following mitigation principles should be considered:

- restrict instream work to periods outside fish spawning period;

- use clearspan bridge structures wherever possible to eliminate need for instream construction work; it is especially important in case of bridges in Puurmani (Pedja River) and Liitva-Võru (Võhandu River).

  • Work along stream bank may disturb riparian vegetation and soils that are integral to supporting aquatic habitat

Following mitigation principles should be considered:

- minimizing footprints of disturbance area;

- carrying out compensatory riparian vegetation planting in adjacent riparian areas that may be suitable for enhancement; most relevant species are fast growing native bushes (willows) and tree species (alders, birches);

- controlling sediment runoff into fish-bearing watercourses by employing best management practices for erosion and sediment control (riparian buffers, floodplains, constructed wetlands), see the chapter on heavy metal pollution and its mitigation.

  • Deposition of toxic concrete or concrete leachate into watercourses during on-site concrete pours

Basic principles for mitigation are as follows:

- ensure that concrete work is isolated from watercourse;

- ensure that concrete trucks and other equipment used to handle concrete are washed down in an area that is isolated from the watercourse so as not to allow toxic leachate to enter fish bearing streams

  • Depositing fine sediments in stream channel as a result of using earth cofferdams to isolate bridge foundation structures from the watercourse

To mitigate this impact, it is important to:

- construct instream foundation works in the dry season so as to avoid the need for earth cofferdams; or use steel caisson type cofferdams instead of earth cofferdams so as to minimize risk of introducing sediments into a fish-bearing watercourse.

Monitoring of the influence of mitigation measures used in the bridge widening and culvert lengthening has following aspects:

  • determination of optimal instream construction time window (should be known befor starting of the operation but it is important information for other analogous cases)
  • monitoring work to ensure instream work avoids or minimizes damage to fish habitat (foresees periodical inspection trips)
  • periodic inspection of works to ensure aquatic habitat protection measures are being implemented
  • inspection during concrete pours to ensure proper handling of concrete and proper cleanup and disposal of waste concrete
  • inspection of foundation construction works to ensure application of environmental best management practice.

During the bridge deck paving (2) it is not allowed to deposit of toxic asphalt substances into watercourses. Likewise, during the bridge painting (3) deposition of toxic paint substances into watercourse from sand-blasting and painting operations should be avoid.

It is important to:

- ensure that asphalt is not deliberately or accidentally deposited into watercourses;

- ensure that sand-blasting operations are contained within protective shrouds and that paint over-spray and dripping is likewise contained by shrouds and tarps.

This is the case for bridges in Puurmani (Pedja River), Liitva (Võhandu River, Võru Bypass) and Vastseliina (Piusa River). The most careful work should be undertaken in Puurmani because of the length and height of the bridge.

Following activities are required to monitor the influence of the mitigation measures of the bridge deck paving and bridge painting:

  • inspection of bridge paving works to ensure asphalt is being contained on bridge deck and not being allowed to spill over into watercourse
  • inspection of sand blasting and painting operation to ensure that proper containment is in place.

Drainage works (4), roadway lane and shoulder widening (5), and reconstruction of road sub-grade (6) are the environmentally most dangerous of the whole spectrum of rehabilitation and reconstruction activities. They may cause following problems:

  • excavation of ditches whose side-slopes and sediments contain elevated levels of lead, cadmium and zinc may result in remobilization of contaminants due to erosion and flushing into watercourses or groundwater (in the karst areas) due to release at disposal site;
  • erosion of fine-grained sediments during excavation which, depending on ditch flows and weather conditions, may be carried into watercourses of fish-bearing and cray-fish habitats (in the case of Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road all the larger rivers - Pirita, Pärnu, Põltsamaa, Pedja, Umbusi, Pikknurme, Emajõgi, Võhandu and Piusa - can be classified like potential fish-bearing streams);
  • removal of roadside vegetation within right-of-way and excavation of new drainage works that may expose fine-grained sediments to erosion and mobilization
  • potential disturbance to adjacent roadside wetlands, however, we consider some types of wetlands as important buffers to protect the watercourses; in the case of the first phase of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road rehabilitation, there are no conflicts with the protected or designated wetland areas;
  • use of subgrade material that is contaminated with radionuclides, based of the information we could use, there are no radioactive materials used in the subgrading materials; the oil-shale fly-ash, which may have low concentrations of some radionuclides and being used for reconstruction of some roads in Estonia, has not been used in this particular case;
  • source of aggregates may create environmental impacts at location(s) outside project area

In terms of the possible environmental impacts It is urgently important to consider following mitigation aspects:

- excavation and removal of contaminated soils (if needed) and disposal of them in a location approved by the legislative documents of the Estonian Ministry of Environment; in any cases these areas can not be located closer than 100 m from water courses and on the karst areas (or non-protected groundwater areas, especially in the stretch between Kose and Rõõsa);

- use of erosion control measures such as revegetation of disturbed soils, tarps, etc., to prevent erosion of ditch side-slopes and soils stock piles; also the principles characterized in the part of heavy metal pollution part should be considered;

- use of sediment containment and control practices and devices such as settling ponds, silt fences, check dams, etc., to prevent suspended sediments from entering watercourses; for more detail proposals see the chapter on heavy metal pollution and its mitigation; in the long term perspective, constructed wetlands should be established to control the flow of pollutants directly into the watercourses and water bodies;.

The problem of source areas of aggregates at location(s) outside project area is rather important in these cases when the sources of gravel or sand are located in or in the vicinity of the protected (designated to protection) areas or when the relevant relief forms (eskers, kames) are important in terms of their cultural-historical and landscape scenery aspects. There might be a real conflict in the esker areas of Paunküla and Kautla (Paunküla oosistik, Paunküla-Voose oosid, Kautla oosid; 45-60 km) and kame field of Pärnamäe (Pärnamäe mõhnastik; 63-68 km). However, the excavation of gravel, sand and other mineral resources is regulated by the legislative documents like Act on Nature Conservation, Act on Protected Natural Objects, Earth’s Crust Act, Water Act, Planning and Building Act. All those document should be followed.

Monitoring of influences of mitigation measures used in this block requires the most comprehensive and long term work:

  • testing roadside soils for elevated levels of heavy metals, particularly lead and cadmium (should be done in by the road inspection organisation or as contract work of some laboratory or research institution)
  • inspection of drainage works construction to ensure implementation of environmental best management practices (periodical inspection, should be done by the road inspection organisation)
  • inspection of construction works to ensure application of environmental best management practices (influence of different buffer zones and constructed wetlands when established is a task of a long-term comprehensive program)
  • involve environmental specialist at preliminary design stage to provide guidance where wetlands may be affected (also, using of wetlands for buffering the polluted flows should be done using the specialists help)
  • test roadside soils for elevated levels of heavy metals, particularly lead and cadmium (long-term investigation, can be done as a contract work by a research institute)
  • test aggregates to ensure they are contaminant free (periodical test, can be done by the road inspection organisation)
  • periodic monitoring of aggregate suppliers to confirm source of aggregates is not creating environmental impacts specific to the project (periodical test, can be done by the road inspection organisation)

During the pavement milling (7) the noise disturbance to nesting birds, particularly prey birds and some rare protected species like black stork, can appear. This might be the problem in the southern part of the road between Tartu and Luhamaa where the traffic load is lower than in the north. However, the known nests of protected prey birds (several species of eagles) and the black stork are located at least 5 km away from the road. Only in the stretch between Kose and Mäo (40-81 km), which will constructed as a new 2-lane carriageway, provide several conflicts in this field. For instance, this part will directly disturbing an existing black stork nest. Nevertheless, these problems have to be considered in the phase II of the rehabilitation project.

There is also a positive impact due to the recycling of asphalt material, thereby reducing amount of new resources required for paving.

Paving/re-paving(8) of the road stretches can cause the air and water contamination from new asphalt batch plant if there is a need to build it. Again, several legislative documents regulate those activities and they should be followed, ensuring proper environmental passports are in place. However, in the karst area (especially between Kose and and Rõõsa; rehabilitation stretch from 40.3 to 50.2 km) the establishment of a new asphalt batch should be avoid to ensure the groundwater protection. In all other areas the optimal places for the batch are remote from houses and protected (designated areas) and they should be located on the areas where the groundwater is well protected (deep depositions of clay and/or loamy till). Also, the potential impact of the new asphalt batch should be regularly monitored by a research institute.

Equipment Maintenance and Fuelling (9) may cause contamination of soils and watercourses, including groundwater, if handling of lubricants, fuels, solvents, etc. is improper or careless. This is valid for all kind of equipment used and in all areas of road reconstruction..

The following mitigation and monitoring measures should be considered:

To avoid damage to natural environment there is a need to ensure proper handling of lubricants, fuels and solvents while maintaining the equipment.

To avoid possible leakage of lubricants and fuel and following pollution, periodic inspection of equipment maintenance, fuelling and materials storage areas is needed to ensure the best management practices being implemented.

Waste Disposal (10) - potential contamination of soils and watercourses as a result of improper disposal of liquid and solid wastes from construction activities.

The mitigation and monitoring measures:

The mitigation measure to avoid contamination of soils and watercourses is to ensure that waste materials are properly disposed to the suitable locations. Partly, inert waste materials (for example concrete from bridge reconstruction) can be used as filling material for reconstruction of road sub-grade.

Periodic inspection of construction works helps to ensure proper handling of waste materials.

Operation of Improved 2-Lane Highway System (11) has both positive and negative effects. Positive benefits of improved traffic flow lead to improved fuel efficiency and better engine performance, thereby reducing volume of vehicle emissions which otherwise results from idling traffic.

However, improved road conditions increase volume of traffic bringing to increased volume of aerosol emissions, including led and other solid particles, and also to increase in emissions of gaseous pollutants like NOx, and CO2.

The mitigation and monitoring measures:

Positive benefits from smoother traffic flows and better engine performance require no mitigation.

The impact of the increased traffic flows bringing higher pollution loads can partially be mitigated by phasing out use of leaded gas in favour of unleaded gas and establishment of lower vehicle emission standards. Also, by planting the hedges along the roadside near dwelling areas spread of pollutants can be decreased.

4.2. Socio-Economic Impacts

Roadway and Bridge Rehabilitation Activities (1-10) described above in relation to the environmental impacts cause also different socio-economic impacts. One social impact is increased level of noise, dust and vibration created while working adjacent to residential dwellings and commercial enterprises during construction, which may create stress on local inhabitants and workers. There are several areas where portions of the existing road planned to be rehabilitated are located within the dwelling areas - most extensively in the villages of Mäeküla - Nurmsi (95-97), Adavere (120), Neanurme (136), Pikknurme(143), bypass of Tartu (183-188), Reola (197), Kambja (204), Maaritsa (214), Saverna (221), beginning of the bypass of Võru (251) and Viitka (283). Additionally, around 140 households outside the named dwelling areas remain in close vicinity (within 100 m) of the parts of the road to be reconstructed. The noise level of a pneumatic drill at 15 meters is around 80 db that is annoying, that of a heavy truck at 15 m may reach 80 db causing hearing damage. Background noise starts to tire people at much lower levels.

During periods of construction traffic flow along roadway and across bridges is reduced which leads to increased travel times and increased inconvenience.

Also, access to roadside businesses, including access to farmlands, as well as access to roadside dwellings is reduced causing again extra inconvenience and extra costs as a result of prolongation of the way to reach the needed area.

Temporary relocation of bus pullouts during construction may lead to increased walking distances for pedestrians.

The mitigation and monitoring measures:

To diminish the social impacts there is a need to ensure that construction equipment is operating with operational noise mufflers, the construction activities are conducted within normal daylight working hours and dust is controlled by watering down working areas during dry periods.

Traffic management plan to provide for safe and efficient movement of traffic during construction avoids extra problems with traffic organisation.

By making the road police part of the implementation of the plan, traffic management can be improved.

Providing alternative access to dwellings and roadside businesses and feeder roads helps to diminish uncomfort caused, also, the same is valid for alternate bus pullouts and pedestrian access routes.

To diminish the unwanted effects, periodic inspection of construction activities is helpful to ensure equipment noise abatement systems are in place; work is carried out during normal construction hours; and dust control measures are in place.

Also, it is needed to monitor project to ensure traffic management plan is prepared and implemented effectively.

Periodic inspection of construction works to ensure alternative access is provided to roadside areas can diminish the problems with access.

Monitoring of construction works helps to make sure that alternative bus pullouts and pedestrian access routes are provided.

Worker Safety during construction has to be concerned. Worker safety while road reconstruction includes both aspects of regular safety as in any use of heavy equipment and the possible danger from passing traffic.

The mitigation and monitoring measures:

workers need to receive safety instruction and personal protective equipment and traffic bypassing the working areas has to be organised in the way safe for construction workers.

Worker Safety can be increased by periodic monitoring of on-the-job safety.

Operation of Improved 2-Lane Highway System (11) has both positive benefits and negative effects. Improved traffic flows lead to reduced travel delays which is definitely a positive benefit. Also, smoother road surface leading to fewer repairs of vehicles thereby leading to longer vehicle life is positive.

Improved road conditions allow higher traffic velocity bringing to increased noise, while moving past residential dwellings or office buildings extra noise may disturb the habitants and workers.

The typical noise level of highway in 15 m is about 70 db which is around the threshold where contribution to hearing impairment begins. Permanent background noise starts to tire people at much lower levels, somewhere close to that of light auto traffic at 30 meters - 50 db.

The mitigation and monitoring measures:

No mitigation is required in relation to positive benefits.

Where noise is predicted to increase 5 dB or more, it is needed to construct noise barriers to separate traffic from residential or office buildings.

Ambient noise monitoring and predictive noise modelling to determine whether project will increase noise by 5 dB or more can keep the rise of the noise level in certain limits.

4.2.1. Tartu Bypass and Tõrvandi Interchange

It foresees the switch from one carriageway to a motorway with two carriageways, meaning widening of the land stripe remaining under the road. This means acquisition of narrow bands of land along 8 km of the Tartu Ring Road.

The bypass serves both as a road for long-distance traffic and a town street of Tartu. The bypass has several crossings with the roads leaving Tartu (ring crossings of Ilmatsalu, Viljandi and Valga) and crossings with two streets - Raja and Aardla, from which the crossing with the Aardla street is intensively used both along the Aardla street and the bypass. Solution for this crossing might be handling the situation as a crossing inside town and limiting the speed to that of town (as it is now). Excluding the possibility to cross the ring road along the Aardla street would be favourable from the point of bypassing traffic, however from the point of the Tartu traffic scheme is absolutely unacceptable.

Higher traffic intensities along the bypass increase heavy metal and noise pollution (see chapter 3) in the adjacent areas. There are a few households and one block-house located directly next to the road.

The mitigation and monitoring measures:

Development of a land acquisition plan for the project helps to decrease the related problems. Payment of adequate compensation to land owners in exchange for land is essentially acquired for project success.

Solution of the traffic within Tartu needs cooperation between the planners of road transportation and town planners.

It is essentially needed to monitor implementation of the plans.

Land Acquisition has been reported separately.

5. Possible alternative connections between Tallinn and Tartu

Different possible alternatives have been offered to rehabilitation of the Tallinn - Tartu - Luhamaa road while public discussions. In the following, the major alternatives are dsicussed.

Internet and videoconferences as possible measure to decrease the need for traffic to Tallinn

The number of internet users in Estonia is high and is increasing permanently. Essentially, development of the teleconnections is important and is happening and certainly, better telecommunication can in certain cases replace the need to be there in person. However, it is highly unrealistic that internet and teleconferences would decrease the traffic between Tallinn and Tartu in the near future - peoples habits for personal communication and other factors are too strong to be excluded fully.

The Piibe road

The road is following mainly the supporting roads of Jägala-Käravete and Tartu-Jõgeva-Aravete. There is no way to force the cars to choose the Piibe road so possible use of the road as an alternative to reach Tallinn from Tartu and vice versa depends on the free choice of the driver. The road is narrow and with limited visibility and longer than the Tallinn - Tartu - Luhamaa road. The Piibe road was not designed for traffic of the level of that between Tallinn and Tartu. The "bottlenecks" of the road are villages of Aegviidu and Järva-Jaani. The traffic conditions are bad on almost the whole of the portion of the road from Aegviidu to Käravete (narrow road, bad visibility, horisontal and vertical curves with small radius). The probability of the cars leaving the Tartu circuit for choosing the Piibe road is very low.

Railway transportation

In the domestic land transport the private vehicles will retain their priority also in the coming years, giving more than 70% of the total passanger transport turnover (in passanger kilometres). In public transport the percentage of bus users will be high (70-80%), while the proportion of trams and trolleybus users shall be 11-12%, and the usage of trains, undergoing some increase, should constitute ca 8-9%.

The change of the railway transportation into more comfortable and faster (which require full reconstruction of the railway as the existing condition of the railroad are not suitable for faster trains) will not decrease the traffic on the Tallinn - Tartu road much as the portion of traffic from Tallinn to Tartu is small. Most of the traffic comes from areas directly neighbouring the road.

6. Public discussion

Public access to the material presented in this report is possible via the following website:

Also a paper highlighting the rehabilitation project of the Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road is prepared to publish in one of the leading newspapers (Postimees or Päevaleht).

7. References

Dierkes, C. and Geiger, W.F. 1999. Pollution retention capabilities of roadside soils. Water Sci. Technol., 39: 201-208.

Dombeck, G.D., Perry, M.W. and Phinney, J.T. 1998. Mass balance of water column trace metals in a free-surface-flow-constructed wetland in Sacramento, California. Ecol. Eng., 10: 313-339.

Knauer, N. und Mander, Ü. 1990. Untersuchungen über die Filterwirkung verschiedener Saumbiotope an Gewässern in Schleswig-Holstein. 2. Mitteilung: Filterung von Schwermetallen. Z.f. Kulturtechik und Landentwicklung, 31: 52-57.

Mander, Ü. 1983. The effect of roadside woods and hedges on the distribution of heavy metals alongside motorways. Acta et comm. Univ. Tartuensis 647: 50-66. (In Russian, summary in English).

Mander, Ü. 1985a. Agricultural use of polluted roadside zones in the Võru rayon. In: Ecology and Economics of Agricultural Landscape. Proceedings of the Conference, Võru, April 5-6, 1985, Tallinn-Võru, pp. 121-125. (In Estonian, summary in Russian).

Mander, Ü. 1985b. Roads as pollution sources. Eesti Loodus 28: 307-316. (In Estonian, summary in English).

Mitsch, W.J. and Gosselink, J.G. 1993. Wetlands. 2nd Edition. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 722 p.

Norrström, A.C. and Jacks, G. 1998. Concentration and fractionation of heavy metals in roadside soils receiving de-icing salts. Sci. Total Environ., 218: 161-174.

Perdikaki, K. and Mason, C.F. 1999. Impact of road run-off on receiving streams in Eastern England. Water Res., 33: 1627-1633.

Scholes, L., Shutes, R.B.E., Revitt, D.M., Forshaw, W. and Purchase, D. 1998. The treatment of metals in urban runoff by constructed wetlands. Sci. Total Environ., 214: 211-219.

Sults, Ü. 1997. Environmental state of the art of the Emajõgi River before the establishment of the Tartu wastewater treatment plant. South Estonian Environmental Protection Laboratory, Tartu, 80 p. (In Estonian).


Professor Ülo Mander
Institute of Geography, University of Tartu, Estonia

Professor Tõnu Oja, Head of the Institute
Institute of Geography, University of Tartu, Estonia