Comment The tearing battle over the new traffic tunnel left a cloud of dust in Helsinki’s politics, behind which stands a question the size of an elephant

The Sörnäist tunnel became the first real touchstone for the new delegates. The solution made may well be the best, but it also leaves behind confusion, write Veera Paananen, HS’s city journalist, and Lari Malmberg, the city’s editorial chairman.

Helsinki immediately after its first autumn, the city council was presented with a topic that brutally divided the parties: the Sörnäistentunnel.

On Wednesday evening, the council decided to build an underground tunnel between the Sörnäinen coastal road and the Hermann coastal road. The cost estimate for the 1.6-kilometer-long tunnel is EUR 180 million.

Of the large parties, the tunnel was supported by the Coalition Party, while the fiercest opponents were the Greens and the Left Alliance. The Demars eventually disintegrated, with 13 delegates 5 voting against the tunnel. In addition to the demarches, the Basic Finns played the role of solver, voting unanimously in favor of the tunnel.

Read more: The Helsinki City Council approved the Sörnäistentunnel – five of the demars voted against the tunnel

The parties have relied exceptionally heavily on official training in the controversy.

City Traffic Planning Director Reetta Putkonen according to the complex, the complex of transport in the area requires a tunnel if public transport, cars, bicycles and pedestrians are to travel in the area without unsustainable congestion and general hooliganism. Some external traffic planning experts, on the other hand, have been more skeptical about absoluteness.

The Coalition Party and the SDP opposed the city civil service.

“In the midst of the debate and arguments, I simply have to rely on the assessment of the bureaucracy. In the presented assessments, no solution has been found in which the implementation of the Jokeri 0 line without a tunnel would not create a traffic bottleneck in Kalasatama or significantly reduce the functionality of the Jokeri 0 line, ”said the mayor of Helsinki at the meeting. Juhana Vartiainen (kok).

The Jokeri 0 tram line is planned to run from Herttonime via Pasila to Western Helsinki in the future.

However, it is also a fact that the city has not carried out – or at least published – a study of tunnel options that would have taken into account the implementation of the planned Joker 0 line. Additional studies have been requested by traffic planning experts, such as Aalto University’s traffic researcher Janne Olin.

Read more: Unsurprisingly, Minister of Transport Harakka presented an alternative to the Sörnäistentunnel – Director of Transport Planning condemns cautious green light from professor

This was strongly linked to criticism from the Greens and the left.

“I myself very rarely present here the opposite view of the preparation of our city for future plans. However, I am doing so now, because no plan has yet been drawn up for traffic in the Kalasatama area, where traffic would travel on land and where the goals of the urban strategy are being met, ”said the Deputy Mayor of the Greens in his speech to the council. Anni Sinnemäki.

To come to an end there is a slight confusion left over from the heated debate.

The tunnel decision has undeniable advantages. Traffic disruptions can be expected to decrease in the rapidly growing center of Kalasatama, and relief can be expected from the flow of traffic. One of the downsides is that the disadvantages of car traffic may increase as a result of the decision elsewhere in the city and the climate may also suffer.

The tunnel decision also gives a reliable picture of Helsinki as a partner. The developers who have invested in the fishing port have made their decisions assuming that the city will resolve the traffic issue in a way that is tolerable for residents.

Looking to the future, the city can still wish for a more careful opening of the preparations to the citizens. No transport solution – like any other political decision – is really necessary. The Sörnäist tunnel may in many ways be the best possible solution, but for those who are skeptical about the decision, its acceptability would be increased if the cards were placed more openly on the table.

Second the confusing question in the resulting setup is related to the flow of decision-making. Although there is no definitive certainty about the “necessity” of the tunnel, it seems indisputable that solving the problems in the area is not a simple calculation.

Therefore, on the eve of a major investment, one has to ask once again why we are now at all in a situation where the problems of a rapidly growing district are being solved by an underground tunnel?

The traffic jam at Kalasatama was not born by itself. The plans that led to the density of the area were blessed years ago with the blessing of all the major groups, and the Sörnäistentunneli has revolved around the ages and ages.

Ideology cannot be blurred by decision-making.

Eventually the political decision on a major transport project does not, of course, fully revert to finding the most pragmatic alternative. No matter what politicians on the different sides of the field say, the ideology of decision-making cannot be erased.

The Coalition Party needs to look a little more closely at the interests of the passenger car, the Greens are required to absolutely increase emissions and the SDP needs to find its compartment somewhere in between.

It was this situation that was also represented by the result of the vote in the council, all the way to the decentralization of the SDP.

As climate change progresses, the voices, demonstrations and demands for a climate-friendly urban policy are unlikely to diminish, at least in Helsinki. While progressive climate policy is in fact being pursued by all the major groups, many of the great struggles of the near future will in part revolve around this very dimension.

It is good to remember the proportions: In the end, the Sörnäist tunnel is just a single tunnel. Significantly larger decisions affecting public transport, motoring, the climate, the comfort of the city and the vitality of the city center are imminent.

Next politicians are starting to turn guidelines on the city’s parking policy, including how much resident parking has to be paid for.

An issue the size of an elephant, on the other hand, is building electric car charging infrastructure. The proliferation of electric cars also came to the fore in the debate on the Sörnäistentunnel, especially among the defenders of the tunnel.

It is true that as electric cars become cheaper, more and more people who need them would be willing to change the quality of the vehicle’s propulsion. However, the slowdown is still very low charging infrastructure for housing companies in the city.

Everyone who has ever attended a meeting of a housing association will realize that a smooth transition to charging station works will not be possible without the strong help of the public authorities at both the city and state level.

For some reason, very little is still said about this.

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