Today, the Curonian Spit pedestrian and bicycle path was officially opened in Smiltynė after reconstruction. President Gitanas Nausėda and Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis participated in the opening ceremony for the 13.5 km-long stretch from Smiltynė to Juodkrantė. This is the first step in one of the largest bicycle path reconstruction projects in Lithuania in recent years.
The reconstruction that began in late February on the first two sections of the Smiltynė–Nida path between km 2.104 and km 15.567 has reached the finish line. The journeys of Lithuanian and foreign tourists and local residents sustainably travelling around the Curonian Spit will be more convenient and, most importantly – safer.
“I have no doubt that the revamped, modern Curonian Spit bicycle and pedestrian path will help the Neringa resort and the Curonian Spit National Park achieve their goals together. I know that the institutions and municipalities responsible for the reconstruction project had to work hard – and still have to – to reach a consensus both on attention to the environment and on safe, comfortable travel. May this experience become an example for the other wonderful areas of Lithuania and for other institutions in creating an environmentally sensitive transport infrastructure,” said the President Gitanas Nausėda at the opening ceremony.
As part of the reconstruction, the path was widened from 2–2.5 m to 3.5 m. It was equipped with added protection against tree roots, and the reinforced surface structure will ensure that the path will be usable for years without the need for additional repairs. The parameters of the new infrastructure will also allow the path to be used by forest maintenance and fire-fighting heavy equipment in the event of danger. This is crucial, as the forests on this peninsula have been damaged by fires repeatedly.
“Let’s be honest – The Neringa path was in critical condition, and the question was not about convenience, but about people’s safety. We did what we promised – today we already have a reconstructed 13.5 km-long part of the Neringa path, and after starting this autumn, we plan to overhaul the remaining 22.3 km-long section by the summer of 2024. This is a reconstruction project that we have waited decades for, and once it’s done, the path stretching through the picturesque Curonian Spit National Park will become, perhaps, the best route in all of Lithuania,” said Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis during the event.
The section of the path that was reconstructed and opened to the public today coincides with stretches of the EuroVelo 10 (The Baltic Sea Cycle Route) and the EuroVelo 13 (The Iron Curtain Trail), so as it gains momentum, the reconstruction is expected to significantly contribute to the promotion of international ecotourism.
The reconstruction of the 13.5 km-long path was carried out by the construction company UAB YIT Lietuva. The total value of the project contracts was EUR 5.8 million.
According to Lithuanian Road Administration CEO Marius Švaikauskas, the overhaul of the first part of this path is good news for cyclist, holiday maker and tourist communities, as it creates a comfortable and safe infrastructure that promotes sustainable mobility.
“The trail runs through a protected area of the Curonian Spit, so sensitive issues regarding the preservation of trees, dunes and vegetation were addressed when revamping the trail. So I’d like to say that I am pleased that during implementation of the project, we joined forces with several partners – VĮ Valstybinių miškų Urėdija, Curonian Spit National Park and other institutions – after all, both environmental protection and road safety aspects had to be coordinated during the reconstruction,” says Mr Švaikauskas.
According to Neringa Municipality Mayor Darius Jasaitis, the rapid renovation of the path connecting Smiltynė with Nida will encourage rediscovering and getting to know the Lithuanian peninsula, which is so unique in terms of its nature, with eco-friendly bicycle transport, and will contribute to making the area more attractive.
“The bicycle path’s journey towards reconstruction took time, but the result we see today is particularly pleasing. I’d like to remind you that a few years ago, the trail was legally lost, but in the end it not only appeared, but also received due attention. Not only the residents of Neringa were looking forward to this reconstruction – this is an event of international significance. The revamped trail will create broader and safer opportunities for active recreation in the outdoors, will allow special services to take better care of the Curonian Spit forests, and, of course, will encourage people to use bicycles in lieu of cars. On behalf of the Neringa community, I would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Lithuanian Road Administration. We are extremely happy and hope to see further reconstruction of the bicycle path soon,” said Mayor Jasaitis.
The total length of the Smiltynė–Nida path is approximately 50 km. Most of it – almost 36 km from Smiltynė to Preila – belongs to the Lithuanian Road Administration (LRA), and the rest belongs to Neringa Municipality.
Now that the first 13.5 km-long stretch has already been opened to the public, the work will move – this year – to the 15.6 km-long section running through Juodkrantė towards Pervalka. In parallel, a 6.7 km-long part of the path at Pervalka and the paths along the roads from Pervalka and Preila towards the sea will also be revamped. The section of the path from Pervalka to Nida that belongs to Neringa Municipality is in good condition and is suitable for use.
Construction of the historical Curonian Spit pedestrian and bicycle path took place in several stages. The stretch from the settlement of Pervalka to Pervalka beach was built back in 1978. The path that was patched together since then only received the most necessary repairs and was never reconstructed.
Pranešimą paskelbė: Justina Šveikytė, LR Susisiekimo ministerija