CEEQUAL Excellent Sustainability rating (85.3%) – Interim Client & Outline Design Award
Version 5, February 2021 | Lahti, Finland
Finland’s trunk road Vt12 is important both for Finland´s east to west traffic and as part of the EU-wide TEN-T network (The Trans-European Transport Network). It is a major national road, acting as the most important road for a number of Finland’s regions, whilst also providing connections to Russia in the east.
This project, undertaken by the VALTARI alliance, involves the construction of a 4.5km southern ring road, bypassing the center of the city of Lahti, Finland. Due to the importance of trunk road Vt12, these improvement works have a major impact on export and import opportunities in Finland as a whole.
The project aims to divert large amounts of traffic to a new location. The result of this is to improve air quality and reduce nuisance associated with noise pollution in the city of Lahti. Further, by diverting the traffic to a less vulnerable location, the project is able to reduce the risk of contamination to groundwater, which is Finland’s most important source of drinking water. Alongside this, the project also aims to improve functionality and efficiency of local traffic and logistics, and promote the development of the wider urban region.
The VALTARI alliance consists of the Finish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA); the city of Lahti, Finland; the municipality of Hollola; Skanska Infra Oy and AFRY Finland Oy. As part of the project, the alliance is delivering:
- 4.5km of trunk road Vt12, including 2 lanes in each direction and 3 interchanges
- Adding lanes to Highway 4 between Kujala and Joutjärvi
- 0.5km concrete tunnel at Patomäki
- 1km rock and concrete tunnel at Lipola
- 12 bridges
- Concrete groundwater pan at Laune
- 0.5km of smaller roads
- 4.5km of streets
- 2.8km of cycle paths
- 2.1 km of noise barriers
CEEQUAL proved to have an important role in the project, providing several benefits.
The alliance’s project teams reported that the use of CEEQUAL improved functional relations between the teams; cooperation within the project team has been fluent and many new innovative measures were explored and taken due to this productive teamwork. Indeed, the alliance found that CEEQUAL encouraged the project teams to think innovatively, which aligns with one of the main goals of the alliance project. One of the most innovative solutions was the use of lifecycle assessment (LCA). The results of this were widely shared within the FTIA, who are currently developing the first Finnish infrastructure emission database.
CEEQUAL also raised the teams’ awareness of good environmental practices, encouraging active and open discussion about environmental issues during the phases of the project, with this this approach and the use of goal setting providing crucial support in achieving a high level of environmental performance.
Finally, CEEQUAL enabled the design to be influenced by construction efficiencies, such as switching to greener, more efficient energy sources, helping to reduce the cost of the construction phase, as well as identifying small details that can improve overall performance, for example by improving the biodiversity of the project.
The project utilized comprehensive communication practices, harnessing multiple communication channels (including social media, information boards, text messaging services, map services and public events) in order to reach the people most affected by the project. This paid off by helping the final design to better serve the public, as well as creating a safe environment for the local population while the road was under construction.
Additionally, the active teamwork between the different project parties of the VALTARI alliance was of an excellent standard, exceeding expectations. Due to this, several beneficial outcomes were achieved through collaboration. For example, the project decreased the use of virgin raw materials by using existing materials more efficiently and created a design that decreased the overall amount of materials required.
The ultimate objective of the alliance model is to generate optimum value for the financers and key stakeholders of the project. This does not simply refer to the lowest price, but the achievement of set goals including quality, scope, availability and environment, while keeping to the target cost. To achieve this, a clear strategy was devised, with the following objectives:
- A clear, functional traffic system that directs both regional urban traffic and long-distance traffic smoothly and safely to the correct routes
- Improvement in the predictability of logistics, including cost savings
- Functional and efficient access to the industrial and logistics areas of Kujala and Lotila
- Promoting the development of the Nostava logistics area and areas around the Lahti railway station, as well as in Asko, Sopenkorpi and centre of Hollola
- Improving residential comfort in the areas surrounding the current rrunk road Vt12 in central areas, as pass-through traffic is eliminated and traffic noise, emissions and congestion are reduced
- Reduction of the risk of groundwater contamination in Laune and Salpakangas, which are important water supply areas
This road was opened to traffic one year ahead of schedule. During the project there was extensive collaboration between the project teams, as well as wide-reaching stakeholder engagement, comprising community meetings, public exhibition, a dedicated communication representative and efficient use of a communications database.
High levels of health and safety standards were maintained with considered design, regular health and safety briefings and practical measures such as mini guard barriers and fences to keep the public and contractors safe. The project also tested a new method to manage worker flows in the tunnels in case of emergency and a few innovative safety upgrade ideas were passed on to the nationwide safety organisation to be studied further.
Environmental impacts were considered from the earliest planning stage to achieve one of the project’s primary objectives of reducing localised air and noise pollution from traffic. Extensive environmental measures were introduced to improve the ongoing environmental performance of the city and mitigate the impact of construction, including building new habitats and supporting protected species. The project team consulted regularly the local environmental representatives during the project and received good feedback from this approach.
People and Communities
The project used a comprehensive community consulting management plan, with an active team to support it. The project team used new tools to communicate with the community, such as an open map service where people could see the progress of building the rock tunnel and a text message service which warned the service subscribers 15 minutes before explosion. Additionally, the project team did its best to respond to the needs of community. For example, a dog trainer was hired to support dog owners whose dogs had anxiety issues with the explosions, and a new crosswalk was built that wasn’t included in the original project scope.
Land Use and Landscape
As a starting point, it was decided that existing materials should be utilized as comprehensively as possible. The local conditions guided decision making e.g. selection of grass types to ensure the project complemented the local environment; existing vegetation was also preserved wherever possible. Where discrepancies or inconsistencies occurred, the changes were reviewed in advance at a weekly production control meeting or, if necessary, at an APG (Alliance Project Group) meeting, where final decisions on the operating model were made. The changes were updated in the project’s landscape plans in the handover phase.
The Historic Environment
There were multiple historic environment surveys done during and before the development phase of the project. There weren’t any historic assets in the construction area that needed to be protected.
Ecology and Biodiversity
Due to the active project team, the project was able to enhance local biodiversity. For example, in cooperation with a local agency which aims to employ the unemployed young people living in Lahti, new homes were built for birds, flying squirrel and bats from leftover building materials. In addition, highly endangered sunlit habitats were created in several areas.
The project carried out several invasive species surveys, on the basis of which the care recommendations were recorded in the maintenance management system. The project team took measures to decrease the amount of invasive species locally. The topsoils were treated in accordance with guidance of the invasive species survey e.g. by burying topsoil that contained the invasive species deep into the landfill area or embankments. The project provides important monitoring information on the success of the control measures. The project’s invasive species survey also guided the utilization of land masses suitable for topsoil. For example, two areas with excellent raw soil composition were left unused due to the presence of lupine.
The materials found on the site (various aggregates, earth stones, rotting wood, branches etc.) were communicated effectively, enabling them to be utilized as part of the design and in construction. In connection with the finishing work, twig fences (insect hotels) were built from the dry branches and wood waste in the outdoor areas of the Liipola-Kujala area, supporting the biodiversity of the area.
The Water Environment
One of the project’s objectives was to ensure pure drinking water by protecting the groundwater in Laune and Salpakangas. The aim was to also achieve good groundwater quality in areas through which the roads pass. In the Laune area, where the trunk road crosses groundwater area, a watertight pan was built to protect the groundwater.
As the groundwater pan was built below the groundwater surface, the groundwater table at Laune can be controlled by subsurface drains. If the groundwater table rises to a certain level, the groundwater flows to the subsurface drains of the pan and along the discharge line to Paskurinoja creek. Further, the pure discharged groundwater improves the water quality at Paskurinoja.
The Kujala interchange was designed and located in such a way that there will be no changes in the humidity conditions in the upper stream of the Vartiooja. The Vartiooja stream has the potential to be a fish spawning. Therefore, the chemical composition and living conditions in the water environment was monitored during construction.
During construction , multiple measures were used to prevent the water bodies from becoming disturbed e.g. the oil absorbent booms and surface water retention basins.
In terms of material efficiency, the project utilized old demolished road railings as detour railings, old and existing expanded clay aggregated as part of the new structure, purchased recycled expanded clay aggregates to fill the underpass tunnel, demolished electric poles as flying squirrel jumping trees, and built artificial nests for flying squirrel, birds and bats from surplus materials.
The project aimed to provide work for local contractors and producers. Locality was an important aspect; the local and recycled materials that could be used were surveyed before and during the project’s development phase. The project cooperated with local schools and agencies to provide jobs to students and the unemployed.
The energy supply was changed to a renewable source because of the result of LCA calculation. The consumption of energy was followed throughout the project and measures to minimize it were taken.
The Southern Ring Road project created new pedestrian and cycling paths in the city while improving the efficiency of the existing public transportation in the city, creating opportunities for residents to live a more-sustainable lifestyle.
During the development phase it was decided that all transfers of mass within the worksite would take place via the worksite roads, improving the usability of surrounding roads and streets that were kept open for traffic during construction.
Cooperation within the project team has been fluent and many new innovative measures were taken due to this productive teamwork. Environmental awareness has grown within the project team and actually the need for this kind of approach and goal setting is longed for in the construction industry in Finland.
– The VALTARI alliance
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