Lithuania Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

The motorways and 2×2 expressways in Lithuania.

According to wholevehicles, Lithuania has by far the best developed highway network of the Baltic countries. Formally, 400 kilometers of road has the status of a motorway, although the total number of kilometers of highway-like road is more than 500 kilometers. The A1 connects Vilnius and Kaunas with Klaipėda on the west coast and is over 300 kilometers long. The A2 is a motorway from Vilnius to Panevėžys over 120 kilometers. In addition, the country has a number of high-quality motorways, notably the A5, A6 and A12. The main road network consists of A-roads with one or two numbers, and in addition there are secondary roads with three numbers. The A-roads are generally good, many 3-digit roads still need improvement, which is happening at a rapid pace. The most important missing highway link is the E67 (A5) from the border with Poland to Riga.

The border crossings with Latvia and Poland are control-free, but with Belarus and Russia there are strict border controls. Lithuania, in combination with Latvia, is increasingly used as an alternative from Western Europe to Moscow, to bypass the route through Belarus – despite the fact that there is a highway there. From Poland it makes little sense to drive via Kaliningrad to Lithuania due to the cumbersome border controls, as this is an external border of the EU.

History

The A2 near Ukmergė.

At the time of the Soviet Union, the Lithuanian SSR got the best road network in the whole country from the 1970s. A large concentration of thoroughfares of higher design standards was constructed. The main road of the Lithuanian SSR was the M-12 which ran from Minsk via Vilnius and Rīga to Tallinn. In addition, there was a dense network of A-roads.

The construction of motorways has been started since the 1960s. Today’s A1 was the Soviet Union’s first long-haul highway and was opened in 1970 between Vilnius and Kaunas. Construction started in 1971 on the A1 from Kaunas to Klaipėda, which was opened in phases up to and including 1987. Construction also started in 1980 on the A2 from Vilnius to the north, which was completed in 1985 as far as Ukmergė, but due to the fall of the Soviet Union, the second phase of the A2 gained confidence, it was not until 1998 that the highway was opened. completed at Panevėžys.

In the 1970s, the A-roads were also built on a modern route. Characteristic of these types of roads was that they did not follow the historic roads through the villages, but followed a much straighter route. As a result, these were fast connections. However, ring roads near cities were almost nowhere built at that time. It was not until the second half of the 1980s that the construction of bypasses became more concrete, for example, at the end of the 1980s, the construction of both the Šiauliai and Panevėžys bypasses started. However, these were not completed until after independence. At the end of the 1980s, the A13 between Klaipėda and Palanga was also widened to 2×2 lanes.

One of the few major A-road construction projects in the first 20 years after independence was the construction of more than 30 kilometers of the A8 north of Kaunas. Before 1990, the main north-south routes through Lithuania were from Rīga to Vilnius (A2-A10) and from Rīga to Kaliningrad (A12). Due to Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast, this became a major obstacle to through traffic, shifting it to the new middle route via Kaunas. To this end, the A8 north of Kaunas was constructed over a modern route in the period 1999-2001 to fulfill this new role.

Elsewhere, relatively few major projects have been implemented until 2020. Most road construction in the years 2000-2020 was in and around Vilnius. The most important projects were the Vilnius Southern Bypass (2011-2013) and the Vilnius Western Bypass (2011-2016). This allowed most traffic to bypass Vilnius entirely. After 2015, the focus was on upgrading the A5 from Kaunas to the border with Poland, as this is the main link between the Baltic States and the rest of the EU, this is called the Via Baltica. As of April 1, 2022, 73 kilometers of the A1 between Vilnius and Kaunas was granted motorway status.

Toll

Trucks and buses have to pay tolls by means of a vignette in various categories. Passenger cars with or without a trailer and motorcycles are exempt from toll.

To drive the road over the Curonian Spit (Curonian Spit) an entrance fee has to be paid, for this toll stations are set up on road 167, 10 kilometers from the ferry service from Klaipėda or at the border crossing with Russia. In 2020, the toll for passenger cars was € 5, except in the summer, when no less than € 30 must be paid.

Main road network

Motorways and Motorways in Lithuania
Magistraliniai keliai:

European roads

European roads in Lithuania
E28 • E67 • E77 • E85 • E262 • E272

Signage

The A12 at Mikytai.

The signage is somewhat similar to that in Latvia, but has the exception of using green for highways, as there are no official highways in Latvia. The font is displayed in capitals (upper case). The signage on the non-motorways consists of blue signs, where the road situation is sometimes very graphically represented, especially when clover loops are involved. Country signs are used, and at most connections there are separate signs with the road layout. Fork signs are used on the highways, with the exit targets in a blue box, so there is a color difference between highways and non-motorways. Country ovals are used in Lithuania, as are exonyms that are listed with the original place name, which sometimes leads to crowded signs.

A-roads are shown in a red box with a white frame, with the number in white letters. The other roads have black letters in a yellow box with a black frame. The signage is pretty good, only references on regional roads also indicate only regional targets, making a good map useful.

Road numbering

The road network is divided into A roads, regional roads (Krasto kelias) and municipal roads (Rajoniniu kelias). The prefix A is only used on the A roads, no prefix is ​​used on other roads. The A1 to A4 run clockwise from Vilnius. The A5 to A18 continue from Vilnius, with the highest numbers mainly being bypasses. Regional roads have three digits and appear to be clustered. Municipal roads have 4 digits and consist of a national network, so the same numbers do not occur in other municipalities. The municipal roads are zoned and the first two numbers indicate the zone, the last two are unique numbers.

Road safety

Year Road fatalities
2010 299
2011 297
2012 301
2013 258
2014 264
2015 242
2016 192
2017 192
2018 173
2019 184

In 2010, there were 95 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants in Lithuania. With this, Lithuania had achieved the second largest percentage reduction compared to 2001, with a decrease of 58 percent. Nevertheless, Lithuania was one of the less safe countries in the European Union. In 2015, there were 80 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants, with the situation having improved but the country still being one of the least safe in the European Union.

Maximum speed

The general speed limits for passenger cars are 50 km/h in built-up areas, 90 km/h outside built-up areas, and 130 km/h on motorways. Like other Baltic countries, Lithuania has a lower speed limit in winter, then a maximum speed of 110 km/h can be driven on motorways between November 1 and March 31. Since 11 October 2014, 120 km/h may be driven on motorways in the summer period (1 April – 31 October). This mainly concerns the A1 Vilnius – Kaunas and the A9 Panevėžys – Šiauliai. The maximum speed allowed on unpaved roads is 70 km/h. A maximum of 20 km/h applies in parking areas, this is usually not indicated separately.

For light trucks (including delivery vans) up to 3.5 tons, maximum speeds of 110 km/h on motorways, 100 km/h on motorways and 90 km/h on regular main roads outside built-up areas apply. Lower limits apply to buses; 100 km/h on motorways, 90 km/h on motorways and 80 km/h on other asphalted roads outside built-up areas. For vehicles with a trailer (such as a truck or car with caravan), 90 km/h applies on all types of roads outside the built-up area.

Lithuania Road Network