Traffic and streets – Adaptation


Unpredictable winter weather impedes planning the maintenance of streets and other common areas. Milder winters also threaten the condition of gravel roads. For the entire sector, treatment of stormwater presents a common challenge, ranging from managing rain water away all the way to utilising green areas in its treatment.

Milder winters and extreme weather phenomena change the equipment need

Future challenges for the use and maintenance of traffic lanes and public areas are greatly consistent with the challenges of land use and traffic planning. However, the distinction is that responding to short-term weather disruptions through operative planning becomes emphasised.

In the future, weather phenomena become ever more extreme. Preparing for variation in weather is difficult and decreases the benefit gained from the shorter snow period, because the equipment must be kept at hand in the same way as before. In addition, as temperatures close to zero become more common in the southern part of the country, maintenance must concentrate on fighting skidding, which does not decrease the work amount. On the other hand, in the north, amount of snow may even increase in the upcoming decades as precipitation during the winter months increases.

Increased need to prepare for exceptional circumstances

Increase of road transportation and night time truck traffic has added to the need for round-the-clock maintenance. Already, timber transports have been disrupted due to shorter periods of ground frost, softer gravel roads and excess pressure on these roads during the ever shortening logging period in the winter.

According to the Finnish Transport Agency, maintenance during exceptional circumstances should be covered by clear plans and goals agreed with contractors. In this way, at least the main roads could be maintained in condition. An attempt is made to improve the condition of gravel roads in connection to repairs of frost heaving.

Treatment of stormwater as a part of maintenance and planning of common areas

Increased precipitation increases the need for stormwater treatment. Strain on the stormwater network can be reduced by leading the water to reservoirs and green areas where some of it can be absorbed. Nowadays, open ditches and wetlands are considered a valuable addition to recreational areas. In addition, the actual flood mitigation can be implemented in some places while taking recreational values into account.

As the climate becomes warmer, use of more southern species becomes possible in plantations. On the other hand, dry periods during the summer may weaken the growth circumstances in some places. Plantations must be planned carefully while preparing for additional watering. As the rabbit population in Helsinki proves, also pests benefit from the milder winters.

References [1], [2], [3], [4]