Improvement work started on Turku ring road to widen it to four lanes and enhance safety – the first stage is due for completion in 2021

The improvement on the first stage of the Turku ring road E18 started with piling and excavation work. The improvement of the ring road between Kirismäki and Kausela is currently one of the few major road improvement projects underway in all of Finland.

The Pukkila junction in April 2019. Photo: Väylä, Henri Ilmonen

The Turku ring road is the main route from the ports of Turku and Naantali towards Helsinki. Some 13,500 vehicles drive on the road per day. The improvement of the route will affect the smooth flow of traffic on the connection that is important to Southwest Finland on the whole, and make it safer.

”The rule of thumb is that separate driving lanes is a four times safer solution than a two-lane road”, says Juha Sillanpää, Project Manager of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency which is responsible for the project.

”At present we have 50 people working, and the number will increase once the work on the bridge gets started. There are both Destia employees and e.g. local earth-moving entrepreneurs”, Juha Sillanpää says.

The ring road will be converted to a four-lane road between Kirismäki and Pukkila, and the at-grade intersections between Kirismäki and Kausela will be removed. Stage I will be completed in 2021. One new bridge and one graded intersection will be built on the stretch, and the Kirismäki intersection will be improved e.g. by building a roundabout. In addition, a parallel route and new paths for pedestrians and cyclists will be built on the ring road.

The cost estimate of the first stage is 39 million euros. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency is responsible for the implementation of the project, and the contractor is Destia Oy. The funding for the improvement project comes from the action plan for maintenance backlog.

Piling work is proceeding

You can also see the volume of passing traffic on the site where piling work has already started. Work is underway at four different locations.

”Excavations have started, and road layer structures are now being constructed. The work on the Kirismäki graded intersection has also started, which means that traffic on highway 1 has to be stopped from time to time due to blasting”, Mr Sillanpää says.

Blasting is done at different times of the day.

”If you have bad luck, you’ll have to stop and wait for 5 or a maximum of 8 minutes”, Mr Sillanpää says. Blasting is not done every day, but once or twice a week.

The extension of the road project, stage II, will widen the road to four lanes between Kausela and Pukkila. The improvement of the ring road will also involve rebuilding of the intersection of highway 8 and the ring road in Raisio. The traffic will be directed into a tunnel in the centre of Raisio. At a later stage the road from the end of the tunnel to the Port of Naantali will be made four lanes wide. That part is still only in the general planning phase.

Piling is typically necessary in road construction projects on clay-based, and the site shows that the work calls for technology, know-how and careful planning.

The ring road is part of the E18 road which is one of the European core routes within the TEN-T network, or the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor. Finland is committed to upgrading the main routes to a certain standard which requires e.g. four lanes.

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Text and photos: Sini Silvàn