Main Road 7 is a narrow road with closely spaced interchanges. The number of vehicles between Hamina and Vaalimaa amounts to 6,000 per day, 3,500 of which cross the state border. The share of heavy-duty vehicles is 30 %. During peak periods, the large traffic volumes may cause up to 30 kilometres long queues of lorries at the border. The insufficient road capacity does not meet the transport needs, and traffic volumes are expected to double during this decade.
A high number of pedestrians and cyclists use the road between Virojoki and Vaalimaa. On this stretch of road there is an average of six personal injury accidents and at least one road fatality each year.
Project content and objectives
The new road is to be built just north of the existing road. The current highway will be improved to match the new traffic situation and will run parallel to the new section of the motorway. The project’s western end will connect to the Hamina bypass, and the eastern end to Vaalimaa border.
By fast and convenient travel the area will become more secure and comfortable. By 2040 the number of traffic accidents resulting in injury will be reduced by 60%. Travelling will be eight minutes quicker than present, and planning journeys will become more predictable.
Noise, pollution and safety issues that have been burdening people living along the road will disappear. Excellent noise barriers will significantly reduce noise pollution. Groundwater in the area will be protected. Careful study of important environmental and cultural attractions has been made and will be taken into consideration during construction.
The project will bring a new era to southeastern Finland, with the new highway creating a great opportunity for development in the region. Southeastern Finland’s trade, tourism and commercial life will become busier due to significantly improved transport connections. The new road will attract investment and increase passenger numbers.
The route is being realised by means of the life cycle model, where the service provider is Tieyhtiö Vaalimaa Oy, which is responsible for the construction, financing, maintenance, and possible general renovations during the contractual period set to continue until 2034.
Project timetable: The first section of the E18 Hamina─Vaalimaa motorway open to traffic
The preparation of the project started in 2014 according to the agreed planning. In June 2015 Finnish Transport Agency and Tieyhtiö Vaalimaa Oy signed a 19-year service agreement to build the Hamina–Vaalimaa motorway on a public-private partnership basis, and after this YIT Rakennus Oy begun the road construction. The construction of the highway will mostly happen quite far from residential areas, which narrows down disturbing the ongoing traffic.
The waiting area for heavy vehicles at Vaalimaa was opened in January 2017, and the first section of the E18 Hamina–Vaalimaa motorway, from Lelu to Kattilainen, was opened to traffic on 10 February 2017. The length of this section is roughly five kilometres, including two grade-separated intersections and four bridges: the Lelu and Kattilainen overpasses and Hirvelänkallio and Lelu wildlife overpasses.
The shell on the Lelu overpass columns display the Hamina town plan and the entire bridge is illuminated by LED lights from within. Wildlife overpasses help to maintain the ecological corridors animals use to move from one area to another.
The construction has advanced excellently, in advance of the planned schedule and in accordance with the budget.
The work on other motorway sections, from Kattilainen to Virojoki and from Virojoki to Vaalimaa, is also progressing as planned. The Vaalimaa tunnel is likewise on schedule.
The construction will be completed in spring 2018.
Estimate of cost
Public Private Partnership design, construction, maintenance and funding have a total cost of €378 million, of which investment costs are €265 million (Construction cost index 2005, 150). The project has received support from the European Union’s Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). The investment benefit to cost ratio is 1:1.