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One of the largest contracts in Finnish road history stretching over more than 60 years has come to an end when the E18 motorway connection from Turku to Vaalimaa is now fully completed.

The E18 is the first Finnish motorway, the building of which started in 1956 on Tarvontie, connecting Helsinki and Espoo. The last section of the E18 motorway from Hamina to Vaalimaa was completed in March 2018.

“The E18 motorway has been built with public and private funding, and this combination has played a key role in keeping the schedule, as reported to the EU,” said Kari Wihlman, director general of the Finnish Transport Agency, in a bulletin. “Traffic connections are increasingly important as success factors and drivers for economic activities.”

“Half of the Finnish GNP is generated and the Russian trade is handled in its area of influence.” -Veli-Matti Mattila

The E18 extends from Vaalimaa to Turku, a total of 344 kilometers. Illustration: The Finnish Transport Agency

Big business, safer travel

According to Veli-Matti Mattila, chair of the Board of the Confederation of Finnish Industries, the E18 was a vision of the ‘90s. “Today, half of the Finnish GNP is generated and the Russian trade is handled in its area of influence,” he said. “Transport and logistics are a natural part of Finnish competitiveness, both in the domestic market and international trade. We need world-class logistics services and full utilization of technologies and automation.”

According to Professor, Director Jorma Mäntynen at WSP, the global enterprise in building sector, Finland is more dependent on the global economy than before. “Therefore, all transport networks must be harnessed to provide connections between Finland and the rest of the world. The E18 facilitates trade between east and west especially well, as it forms a smooth connection between Sweden, Finland and Russia. Routes have an enabling role and they should always be proactively developed. If a conventional investment approach had been taken, the benefits to society would have never been realized.”

The completion of the project, E18 Hamina–Vaalimaa, this spring finished the 344-kilometer motorway-level connection from Turku to Vaalimaa. The E18 is Finland’s most international arterial road. Along the road, there are a total of 87 grade-separated junctions, 236 bridges and 12 tunnels. On a daily basis, up to 87,000 vehicles use the busiest sections of the road.

According to the Finnish Transport Agency, in its completed form, the motorway reduces traffic accidents by as much as 60 percent, and fatal accidents are nearly eliminated.

Milestones of the building of the E18 motorway

Helsinki–Espoo (Tarvontie), 1956–1962

Espoo–Nummenkylä, 1967–1971 

Turku–Paimio, 1990–1997

Paimio–Muurla, 1997–2003

Muurla–Lohja, 2004–2009

Kyminlinna–Otsola, 1969–1971

Helsinki–Porvoo, 1970–1979

Porvoo–Koskenkylä, 1996–1999

Otsola–Summa, 1990–1994

Koskenkylä–Kotka, 2011–2014

Hamina bypass, 2011–2015

Hamina–Vaalimaa, 2015–2018

Source: The Finnish Transport Agency