Highway 4 in Oulu
32 bridges will be repaired, and 20 new ones will be built.
Only a few metres from the motorway, a lone spruce guards the road by a bridge crossing River Oulujoki. The spruce has reached a respectable height, but its significance only dawned on the people of Oulu last summer when Destia was about to start the renovation project of highway 4 in Oulu.
The first section of Pohjantie – which is the name of the stretch of highway 4 that runs through the city of Oulu – was completed among the first Finnish bypass roads in 1969. The manager of the road construction site was Väinö Karppinen, who planted the spruce in tribute to the workers. Over the years and decades, the meaning of the tree was forgotten. In connection with the renovation of highway 4 in Oulu, one spot on construction site will be reserved for a foundation stone for a memorial to remind people of the spruce and the achievement of the Pohjantie workers.
The renovation of highway 4 is needed because an average of 55,000 vehicles pass the tree planted by Karppinen every day. On the busiest days, there can be as many as 70,000 cars. Oulu is one of Finland’s fastest-growing cities. Its population keeps growing because of the migration of the people of Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu to the region’s central city.
Jukka Päkkilä, Project Manager at the Finnish Transport Agency, says that the River Oulujoki survey point is one of the busiest outside of the Helsinki region:
“The busiest hours throughout the year are when people leave work. The speed sometimes drops down to walking speed on the road, which is also the most important traffic route in Northern Finland.”
The motorway is generally used for moving inside the city of Oulu but access ramps do not serve public transport. During the project, the ramps will be renovated to accommodate new public transport stops.
“Developing traffic flows helps professional traffic and private drivers. At the same time, the preconditions for fast public transport using the motorway are created.”
Since the first years, Pohjantie has been continued and developed every decade. Päkkilä highlights that as the city develops, the road with too little capacity will now be fixed at once instead of mending problematic parts separately as individual contracts. For instance, there is plenty of new housing and business at the first stretch of the site in Kaakkuri, and the traffic arrangements on Pohjantie access ramp have been inadequate, creating traffic jams.
Over the span of 16 kilometres, eight interchanges are being renovated, ten kilometres of noise barriers will be built, lighting will be renewed, and traffic lights will be installed. A total of 32 bridges will be repaired, and 20 new ones will be built.