The Law on Taking Land for Public Needs in Implementing Projects of Special National Importance became applicable to the highway project after the government approved the status proposal at a Tuesday meeting.
According to Kubilius, the award of such a status to Via Baltica will ensure the continuation of its implementation. In particular, it would alleviate many preparatory procedures and works, including the purchase of land, planning, and allocation of European funds.
“This decision is important for us to be able to continue with the implementation of this important strategic project... It is important and we are happy to see the progress in neighboring Poland, that the transport links between the Baltic countries and Europe are being improved and upgraded consistently. This important task will continue to require our close attention and effort,” he told the public radio LRT on Tuesday.
Masiulis told LRT Radio that a 40-kilometer section between Kaunas and Marijampolė, a town close to the Lithuanian-Polish border, needed to be modernized in the near term.
„One of the next stages is to construct additional lanes on the segment between Kaunas and Marijampolė. This section is the most intensive at the moment," Masiulis said adding that the project could be financed on a private-public partnership basis.
The authorities plan to upgrade the busiest segment of the Kaunas-Marijampolė-Suwalki road by 2020. It would be the first section in the entire corridor to be upgraded to a motorway. The project is estimated to cost around 494 million litas (EUR 143.2m).
The Via Baltica transport corridor coincides with the Warsaw-Tallinn section of European Route E67, which runs from Prague to Tallinn via Warsaw, Marijampolė, Kaunas and Riga and further up to Helsinki by ferry.
Other partners in the Via Baltica project are Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. The project has been included into the TEN-T road network.