Maintenance of highways
Only diligent maintenance will ensure the road network’s safety and trafficability. Highway maintenance covers the care and upkeep of paved roads, gravel roads, bridges, the road environment, and the adjacent equipment and structures of highways.
Finland has approximately 52,000 kilometres of paved highways. Paved roads play a key role in day-to-day mobility and the competitiveness of trade and industry.
Decisions about road maintenance funding are made by the Parliament. When deciding on the Budget proposal, the Parliament also finalises the appropriations for basic transport infrastructure management. Paving work and the renewal of road markings are part of basic transport infrastructure management.
The road network is divided into 80 contract districts. Local contractors are in charge of highway maintenance in compliance with the service level specified by the Finnish Transport Agency. Based on traffic volumes, the roads are divided into maintenance classes, and the response times for snow ploughing, for example, vary accordingly.
Roads are maintained in order to ensure traffic safety. This includes keeping road surfaces in good condition by repairing and fixing the paving. Driving is affected by the condition of the road surface, which also protects the structural layers underneath the paving.
Maintenance of gravel roads
Unpaved roads have lower bearing capacity compared to paved roads. In addition, heavy rain, dry summers and ground frost cause damage to unpaved roads. Despite continuous repairs, weight restrictions are nevertheless necessary on roads affected by frost heaving.
Maintenance of unpaved roads has an impact on the condition of surfacing and, thus, on the driving experience of road users. Maintenance operations include, for example, planing, fixing, gravelling and dust binding. The roads are also modified, and surface heaving and minor frost damage repaired.
Maintenance of bridges
Bridge maintenance ensures structural safety and a longer service life. A great many bridges are about to require major renovation.
There are approximately 14,200 bridges on the highways, approximately five per cent of which are in relative disrepair. Weight restrictions have been applied to 180 bridges in poor condition. According to the Finnish Transport Agency’s estimate, approximately 7,000 bridges will require major renovation prior to 2020. The number of bridges in disrepair is slowly increasing despite the Finnish Transport Agency’s investment in major repairs.