Main road Vt 12, which is a national east–west route, has run through the Lahti city centre for decades. This has caused congestion, noise, and pollution. The situation will be improved, as most of the traffic will be rerouted to the new ring road, which bypasses the city centre. This enables the development of the Lahti city centre into a more pleasant living environment with safer traffic and better protection for the important groundwater area. The new route will allow for improved land use in both Lahti and Hollola.
Skanska is part of the VALTARI alliance, which is responsible for the construction of the Lahti end of the ring road. This 4.5 km section of the project is the most technically demanding and therefore also takes up a significant part of the overall cost of the project. The section includes three interchanges, two tunnels, and twelve bridges. The VALTARI alliance includes Skanska Infra, AFRY, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the City of Lahti, and the Municipality of Hollola.
The construction of the roads, interchanges and tunnels began in 2018, and the project will be completed in September 2021. The ring opened for traffic on December 2020.
Local environment and residents are taken into consideration already during construction
The project is located in a populated area, and local residents have been kept informed since the beginning of construction. People have been able to follow the progress of mining work through the Lahti map service, and text messages notifying of blasting work have been sent to all notification service subscribers. Many public events about the project have been held for residents.
The surrounding environment has been taken into account in many ways in the project. The adverse impacts to the natural habitats and movement of local wildlife have been minimized. Landscape design has focused on biodiversity, both in choosing plants and in ensuring that animals have green bridges and habitat. For example, artificial nests are built and placed for flying squirrels, bats, and birds as part of the project. For a safe crossing of the road, there will also be separate green corridors under the bridges for otters and jumping trees for flying squirrels.
Finland’s first CEEQUAL project
VALTARI will be the first in Finland to apply for a CEEQUAL environmental certificate for its project. This is reflected in the project’s practices in many ways. One of the most important aspects of the application is the life cycle calculation of the infrastructure project. This calculation will give access to valuable information that can be used to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. The repetition of the calculation at different points of the project would verify the impact that particular choices and actions had on the carbon footprint. Cooperation between the various parties is one of the most important actions to achieve the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions objectives in the future.
Some proposals on how to reduce the project’s carbon emissions were made based on the life cycle calculations. The first of these to be implemented was the acquisition of renewable energy for the entire site.
Recycled materials were favoured whenever possible in the project’s building materials. Tunnel technology also takes into account the carbon footprint of the use of the tunnels after completion, which can be seen, for example, in the choice of LED lighting and heat recovery.
Reducing the carbon footprint often has the effect that there will also be financial savings. Consideration for the environment and proactive measures are also reflected in a smaller amount of negative feedback and required corrective measures.