A Helsinki tram. Photo: Lauri Hänninen.

Hämeentie renovation: Trams to return to key juncture in spring

The renovation of the Hämeentie street area begun in March 2019 has progressed well considering the demanding conditions of the work.  

Water pipe replacement is 74-percent complete, and 77 percent of soil excavation and 69 percent of rock excavation have been completed. Furthermore, 14 percent of tram lines has already been replaced. 

According to the current estimate, trams will return to Kurvi, that is, the key juncture on Hämeentie, in spring 2020. 

At that time, tram lines 1 and 8 will return to their normal routes. Lines 6 and 7 will still run via the Karhupuisto park and Helsinginkatu in the section between Hakaniemi and Sörnäinen. 

Helsinki Region Transport HSL will announce the dates of route changes about a month before the changes take place. 

Tram lines 6 and 7 will return to their normal routes, that is, to run on Hämeentie between Hakaniemi and Sörnäinen, only near the end of the renovation project. As such, they will return to normal routes no later than in late 2020, as originally planned. 

The first six months of work at the site have not been easy, as circumstances discovered below street level in the course of the work, such as unknown pipes and cables and structures located elsewhere than indicated on maps, have required the project team occasionally to go back to the drawing board. 

“The biggest deviation from the information available has been 8 metres. This was the pipeline built in 1889, which may be the city’s most famous pipeline by now,” says foreman Seppo Sirola of the contractor Destia, referring to major flooding caused by a ruptured pipe in the summer.

The project has so far been carried out within the cost estimate drawn up at the planning stage.

“The final cost of the project will largely depend on how many more new and surprising things we’ll discover underground. At the moment it seems that we’ll be able to meet the planning-stage cost estimate,” says Jarkko Karttunen, a head of unit at the City of Helsinki Urban Environment Division.

The project has been supported with active communication efforts, which have earned a great deal of positive feedback especially on the project’s popular Facebook page

Feedback has been more pleasant than normal on the street as well. “The contractor’s staff have received sympathetic and encouraging messages from passers-by, which is not always the case when a project makes people’s lives more difficult,” says the project’s communication officer Heidi Kekäläinen of Destia. 

“We express our gratitude to all citizens who are affected by the work for their patience. You have been incredibly understanding. However, I must admit that the ordeal is not over yet,” says communication planner Lauri Hänninen of the City of Helsinki. 

What is the Hämeentie renovation all about?

Hämeentie is being converted into a street serving pedestrians, cyclists and public transport between Siltasaarenkatu and Helsinginkatu. It will be possible to drive to properties, and maintenance, emergency and delivery vehicles can use the new Hämeentie, but otherwise private cars are not allowed to be driven through the street. 

As part of the project, tram tracks are replaced. Pipes and cables running below street level and the Sörnäinen Metro station roof are renovated.  

The project will increase the safety of walking and cycling, and it will speed up the flow of public transport. 

After the renovation, Hämeentie will be an increasingly pleasant living environment, as reduced car traffic will mean less noise and better air quality. 

The project is scheduled for completion in late 2020. The contactor is Destia Oy. 

Hämeentie renovation in numbers:

  • Better air quality – 7,500 cars less in 24 hours moving through the area.
  • Improvements below street level – 2 km of new water pipes, 4 km of sewers, and 50 km of cable conduits.
  • Safer walking and cycling – 4 km of new cycling lanes.
  • Faster tram service – travel time from the Kurvi juncture to Hakaniemi cut down to half.
  • High time for pipe replacement – the oldest water pipe on Hämeentie dates back to 1889. 
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