Estonia claims Europe's longest ice highway
Saturday 19 February 2011
Stretching for 26 kilometres (16 miles) across a frozen expanse of the Baltic Sea, an ice road will open to motor traffic Saturday linking Estonia's mainland port of Rohukula with Hiiumaa island.
"The ice road is opened in years when the winter is cold enough to freeze the sea strongly enough to carry cars," Raido Randmaa from Estonia's highways administration told AFP Friday.
Under a special law, Estonian authorities can give the green light to ice roads when the marine ice sheet becomes at least 25 cm (9.8 inches) thick, according to Randmaa.
"But we usually wait until it gets to 30 cm (11 inches) everywhere," he explains, adding the ice sheet was judged thick enough for traffic last week. The grand opening of the ice highway between the port of Rohukula in north-east Estonia and Hiiumaa island - population slightly over 10,000 - is always a big event for the islanders.
"The ice-bridge is always very popular and becomes very crowded on weekends," Randmaa explains.
Authorities are strict about safety on the ice, with patrols keeping watch around the clock.
"One of the main rules is that a new car is allowed on the ice road only every 1-2 minutes, and drivers should not get too close to the car ahead of them because otherwise the ice might crack," Randmaa told AFP.
Only Mother Nature knows how long Europe's longest ice road will stay open this year. In 2010, it lasted just 11 days in February.
"Our greatest enemy is not just warm weather but also the extreme cold that could start causing cracks inside the ice," Randmaa said.
Compared to the usual ferry service, the ice-road will cut travel time from Hiiumaa, Estonia's second largest island, to mainland Estonia by nearly two hours, making the trip only around half an hour.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
How double-decker trains would improve Britain's railways
French air-traffic strike: Planned industrial action called off
The 10 Best hiking boots
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...
Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...
£25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...