Annual funding of EUR 130 million is necessary for proper maintenance of local gravel roads. The current funding amount, on the other hand, is only EUR 10 million, said Chairman of Latvian State Roads Janis Lange in an interview to Latvijas Radio on 8 March.
He disagreed with the claim that the state of gravel roads this spring may turn out worse than what was experienced in previous years. «I wouldn’t say it is better or worse than what we’ve seen in previous years,» Lange said.
Gravel roads did suffer from weather conditions this winter season. There had been a total of five cycles of the soil freezing, snowing over and thawing again so far. Lange believes this is the reason as to why roads are in such poor shape now.
«Considering the weather conditions we have seen over the past five years, if the funding volume is not changed, the situation with gravel roads will become worse,» says the head of LVC.
He says the total length of gravel roads in Latvia is approximately 11,000 km. The state budget allocates EUR 10 million for maintenance every year. This funding amount is approximately eight times below what is actually necessary. To ensure proper maintenance of gravel roads in Latvia, EUR 130 million would be necessary every year.
Lange notes that it is a matter of priorities, as money from European funds and the state budget is always diverted to the maintenance of asphalt roads, where traffic intensity is higher. The state of asphalt roads improves every year by 2%.
Lange also notes that it is not possible to do anything about gravel roads under current weather conditions. Diverting water from roads is only possible along a handful of sections. To begin gradation work, it is first necessary to wait for better weather conditions. Residents and municipal authorities also have to ensure that mass restrictions are complied with on roads.
In protest to the critical state of gravel roads, residents of Bauska recently declared their readiness to block off Riga-Bauska-Lithuanian border highway.
«We hope such extreme measures will not be necessary. The state has to search for a solution to this problem,» said the head of the region’s administration Baiba Marcenkova, adding that residents» dissatisfaction is very high. Nevertheless, she said everyone is waiting for a response from state institutions.
In the resolution approved by Bauska regional administration on Monday, 6 March, it is stated that the Saeima and the government have to stop treating roads as some troublesome section of the state budget that can be easily crossed out for several decades. The resolution has been sent to the president, members of the Saeima, parliamentary committees, Finance Ministry, Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry, Transport Ministry, Economy Ministry, Latvian Union of Local Governments, Latvian State Roads and members of Bauska Council.