On April 28, 2021, the State Construction Control Bureau of Latvia officially accepted the Valka city part of newly built Valga – Valka Twin Town Centre. Valga city part of the centre was accepted on February 3, 2021. Thus, one of the main activities of the INTERREG Estonia – Latvia programme 2014 – 2020 project “Valga – Valka Twin Town Centre Development” (Nr. Est-Lat 51) has been completed.
As a part of Valga – Valka Twin Town Centre construction, a pedestrian bridge with swings over Varžupīte/Konnaoja, central square with stage/portico, information point, children’s playground and walking paths along Varžupīte were built. A cultural and sports activity centre has been established near by the Ramsi watermill, as well as the Raina / Sõpruse street section from Latgales Street in Latvia to Raja Street in Estonia has been transformed into a pedestrian street, that way connecting the twin city centres. The total renovated area is 53,625 m2, including 28,729 m2 in Valka and 24,896 m2 in Valga. In Latvian side, pedestrian paths and squares in the area of 6,816 m2 were built, restored carriageways and parking lots in the area of 6,760 m2 were renovated, a green area of 9,350 m2 was created, 90 different trees, 1,600 shrubs and vines, 185 aquatic plants were planted. In addition, in the part of Valka city, new external water supply and sewerage networks, rainwater drainage system, drainage engineering networks, heat supply pipeline, power supply, lighting and electronic communication cables were built and new energy efficient outdoor lighting and video surveillance of the territory were installed.
In order to find the best and most suitable solution for a common city territory on both sides of the Latvian-Estonian border, Valka Municipality Council and Valga Municipality Government organized an international architectural competition “Valga – Valka Twin Town Centre Territory and Pedestrian Street Concept” in early 2016. The total prize fund of the competition was 20,000.00 EUR. In total, proposals were received from 8 participants. Unfortunately, one participant did not qualify because he had not submitted the required qualification documents. Of the submitted tenders, 4 applications were from Latvia, 2 from Estonia and 1 from a foreign architect’s office. The submitted competition proposals were evaluated by an international jury consisting of 8 representatives – 4 from Estonia and 4 from Latvia: people nominated by the municipalities of both countries and the most experienced architects of both Architects’ Unions. From the seven works that qualified for the competition, the jury selected the five best offers that received cash prizes. The jury named as winner the work “Cross-border Strands” by a group of architects from Barcelona, Spain: Jordi Safont – Tria, Anna Gutierrez and Alvaro Cuellar. In July 2016, anyone interested could get acquainted with all the competition offers that were displayed at the Valka City Culture House exhibition. In December 2016, Valka Municipality Council, Valga Municipality Government and the architectural company “In Project Studio Barcelona SPC”, represented by the winning architects, signed a tripartite cooperation agreement on the development of the Valga – Valka Twin Town Centre territory and pedestrian street construction project. The total amount of the contract was 119,795.00 EUR or 56,745.00 EUR for Valka and 63,050.00 EUR for Valga (excluding VAT). In addition, water supply and sewerage system design works were performed, which amounted to 8,910.00 EUR for the Valka city part and EUR 9,530.00 for the Valga city part (excluding VAT).
Due to the complicated and different conditions regulating the construction process in Latvia and Estonia, the construction project for the development of the Valga-Valka Twin Town Center was completed in 2019. In May 2019, Valga Municipality Government announced the procurement of construction works for the project “Development of Valga-Valka Twin Town Center”. In order to obtain the best technical and economical solution, one procurement of construction works was organized for both Valga and Valka side. On December 9, 2019, at the Valga Visitors’ Center (former Valka Town Hall), a tripartite agreement was signed between Valga Municipality Government, Valka Municipality Council and the construction company AS “TREV-2 Grupp” on the commencement of construction works. The total construction costs for the Valga Municipality amounted to EUR 1,630,015.00 and for the Valka municipality to EUR 2,492,379.36 (excluding VAT). The author’s supervision of the construction project of Valga – Valka twin town center territory and pedestrian street was performed by the representative of the construction project developers Jordi Safont-Tria. The contract amount is 3,900.00 EUR or 1,950.00 EUR for Valka and 1,950.00 EUR for Valga (excluding VAT). Supervision of the construction works for the Valka city part was performed by PS “Akorda & KPR”. The contract amount is 23 500.00 EUR (excluding VAT) and for Valga city part OÜ “Procula”, contract amount is 7 040.00 EUR (excluding VAT).
Within this project, the largest construction works were on Valka’s side. Therefore, the costs to Valka Municipality Council are also higher. The largest costs consist of 3 street sections with all engineering networks and street lighting reconstruction (Rīgas Street in the section from the Estonian border to Latgales Street, Latgales Street in the section from Rīga to Raiņa Streets and Raiņa Street in the section from Latgales Street to the Estonian border), building of parking lots, paving of central square and walking paths, construction of portico/stages with information point and 3 pergolas and arrangement of the territory adjacent to Valka bus station. The surroundings of the building at Raina Street 2 (courtyard and fence) were also improved.
The construction works of the Valga-Valka Twin Town Centre proceeded smoothly, despite the fact that in both Latvia and Estonia, due to the Covid-19 virus, a state of emergency was declared and various restrictions on movement and assembly were introduced. Anyone interested could follow the progress of the construction work on online video cameras. Construction work was completed as planned on December 7, 2020. The progress of construction works is summarized in a video here: https://youtu.be/qiO98P7y1b0
Due to the recent completion of construction work, the grass in the area has not yet grown everywhere, and the trees and plants are small. If the solutions planned by the designers do not work in life, the municipality will consider the possibility of improving and supplementing the functionality of the architectural solutions of Valga – Valka Center. Let’s be understanding and give ourselves time to adapt to the new solutions!
The total costs of the “Valga-Valka Twin City Center Development” project are 5,303,202.66 EUR, of which approximately 57% (2,999,999.98 EUR) is financed by the INTERREG Estonia-Latvia Cross-Border Cooperation Program 2014-2020. (ERDF). The budget of Valka Municipality Council is 3,184,343.01 EUR, of which the funding of the Estonia-Latvia program is 1,511,289.19 EUR and the state budget grant is 88,899.36 euros. The budget of Valga Municipality Government is EUR 2,118,859.65, of which the support of the Estonia-Latvia program is EUR 1,488,710.79.
This article reflects the views of the author. The managing authority of the programme is not liable for how this information may be used.
Information was prepared by Jana Putniņa
Development and planning departments
Head of Development and Project Unit
Mob. phone: 26414197
Photos by: Roberts Johansons