New regime to help Alpine destination reduce traffic
One of Slovenia's top tourist destinations, the Upper Sava Valley has been looking for ways to curb ever busier traffic. Some of its most popular landmarks face veritable gridlocks during summer, most notably the Vršič mountain pass and the Vrata Valley, where new traffic regimes will be put in place.
Gates to reduce traffic into Vrata
Traffic into Vrata, the scenic valley leading from the village of Mojstrana directly to the base of the north face of Mount Triglav, Slovenia's highest peak, will be limited with a traffic control gate.
In the past years, traffic on the narrow road, which has only recently been paved, has come to a total standstill at times, unable to handle the buses, cars, motorbikes, bikes and hikers that used it.
A regular passenger bus service has been introduced in the hope of alleviating the situation, but to limited effect, as the destination continued to grow in popularity. Most recently, motorbikes have been banned from the valley due to noise.
Now those in charge hope to make a larger dent in the traffic. Planned at the entrance into the valley, the traffic control gate will close once the parking lot at the end of the road is full.
The gate will be installed this year, while the regime is expected to be fully implemented next year.
Gates to Vršič next summer
Traffic control gates are also planned for Vršič, considered one of the most scenic mountain passes in Europe. Here, the new regime will expectedly be put in place next summer.
During the summer, the pass is littered with cars, many parked outside the designated parking areas, which creates serious safety issues on the road busy with cars, campers, motorbikes, buses and cyclists.
To bring the situation somewhat under control, those in charge now plan to set up traffic control gates on both sides of the pass: in Kranjska Gora in the north and in the Trenta on the south side of the pass.
Being a vital lifeline through the Julian Alps, the road will remain free of charge for transit traffic, while the vehicles whose passage will exceed the set time limit will pay a parking fee at the exit gate.
The regime will be coupled with public transport and improvements at the parking lot on the pass.
The solutions were presented at a consultation in Kranjska Gora last week, with local and state representatives expressing belief that steps are being taken in the right direction.
"Step by step, we will surely find a regime and a situation that is satisfactory," said Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Minister Uroš Brežan, who took part in the meeting alongside Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek.
Kranjska Gora Mayor Henrika Zupan said that first plans to limit traffic were made in 2006 and now finally more significant steps are being made.
New solutions possible later on
She noted that the Vršič mountain pass was the tougher of the two nuts, because the road must allow transit between the regions of Primorska and Gorenjska. A tunnel is still an option but the planned control gates are definitely a faster solution.
Aleš Zdešar of the Triglav National Park, which includes both Vrata and Vršič, said of the mountain pass that it was not yet completely clear how the system will work. "It must be thought through and it might have to be tweaked later on."
But he is confident that cooperation by all key players and time will produce an optimal solution. Zdešar also noted that similar solutions were being used in Austria and in the Dolomites.