29 / 09 / 2020

Fixed Link Over the Kvarken Creates Positive Ripples in the Water

A new investigation into a fixed link over the Kvarken was published in early summer, attracting a great deal of attention. Men behind the investigation – Mr Antti Talvitie and Mr Esa Eranti – attended the Wasa Future Festival in order to present their conclusions and were received with praise and enthusiasm.
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A new investigation into a fixed link over the Kvarken was published in early summer, attracting a great deal of attention. Men behind the investigation – Mr Antti Talvitie and Mr Esa Eranti – attended the Wasa Future Festival in order to present their conclusions and were received with praise and enthusiasm.

Mr Esa Eranti has served as a specialist in several billion-dollar projects, among others the Øresund Bridge. He was Lead Designer of the Tahkoluoto Offshore Wind Farm and has 45 years of experience in project planning, research and development within Arctic hydraulic engineering and environmental issues.

The investigation that Mr Talvitie and Mr Eranti themselves initiated and financed is built on the planned investments in a high-speed train between Helsinki and Turku/Tampere that the two experts view as unfavourable.
– These train investments are in the same price range as a fixed link over the Kvarken, but the benefits are considerably lower in relation to the costs, the men state.

Mr Antti Talvitie has together with Mr Esa Eranti concluded an independent investigation into a fixed link over the Kvarken. The investigation has generated a great deal of attention, and the Kvarken Council is extremely glad of the experts’ work.

Mr Eranti and Mr Talvitie have known each other since the 1980’s when they first attempted to initiate an investigation into a fixed Kvarken link. They finally managed to come together two years ago to fulfill their shared vision. Mr Antti Talvitie has served as the Head of Production Department at the Finnish Roads and Waterways Administration and as a Senior Transport Specialist at the World Bank, and he is an internationally renowned transport researcher and project evaluator with 50 years of experience.

Mr Talvitie participated via a video and emphasized e.g. the importance of income generation over income distribution.
– A fixed link over the Kvarken would be a major step for Nordic cooperation, and it would also create wellbeing, reduce transport costs for industries, and lead to many positive spill-over effects. Bridge construction has not been predicted to cause serious environmental impacts, even though environment is often brought up as the biggest counterargument.

Mr Eranti at Wasa Future Festival talking about different infrastructure investments in Finland and their benefits in relation to their costs, and pointing out the high-speed train between Helsinki and Turku/Tampere as a particularly bad investment.

Mr Esa Eranti, Doctor of Science and an expert on Arctic hydraulic engineering and environmental issues, presented the investigation and confirmed that the technology for the bridge already exists and is well-tested – it is technically only a matter of “getting to work”.
– Technically speaking, the link could be realized in five years with current marine construction technologies. There are already over 200 ice-resistant constructions in the Bothnian Bay, and the construction conditions are relatively good. The water is shallow, mostly under 25 metres, and the seafloor’s bearing capacity is good. In addition, the wave conditions are favourable for marine construction, Mr Eranti adds.
The cost estimate varies between EUR 3–5 billion, depending on the route alternative – a price that Mr Eranti compares to the high-speed train project, which is estimated to cost EUR 3,5 billion.

– The investment would undoubtedly pay itself back in 50 years, probably even earlier, Mr Eranti believes. The link’s beneficial impact would not limit itself to the Kvarken region; instead, it would have major spill-over effects. East-west traffic all the way from Russia to Norway’s Atlantic ports would benefit greatly from the connection and, without a land connection to the south, Finnish industries will always suffer from high transports costs – almost 75% of Finland’s exports go to Europe.

Mr Eranti does not think that the bridge would create a competitive situation with the new ferry.
– On the contrary, it would render both the ferry and our ports more interesting, and they would support each other.

The construction project’s environmental impact would be local and short-term, with mostly turbidity and noise as temporary effects. The project would be neutral in terms of climate emissions.

– The project would generate employment, incomes, and opportunities for the industries – and it would naturally provide a fantastic experience from a road user’s perspective, Mr Eranti adds.

Mr Eranti and Mr Talvitie expressed their thanks for the interest generated by their investigation, while MP Joakim Strand, in turn, expressed his gratitude for the experts’ work.
– It’s fantastic to hear someone talk about value creation instead of resource allocation, and Mr Eranti and Mr Talvitie have done impressive work. I’m looking forward to cooperating with them, Mr Strand tells.

Cooperation has indeed been established in the summer, and the issue of the link is already being discussed in several forums – among others, in the Board of the Kvarken Council.
– Everything we do is part of a greater whole – this applies to both battery factories and the reorganization of the Kvarken Council from a registered association into an EGTC, Mr Strand explains. It’s like running a marathon, but a fixed link over the Kvarken is not impossible from a purely economic viewpoint. We’re talking about a smaller sum than Finlands latest supplementary budget – to put things into perspective, Mr Strand concludes.

The event was live streamed on Youtube.

Mr Eranti has produced an animation of the modern construction technologies that could be applied in the Kvarken: https://youtu.be/6F85hKGozXY

Talvities presentation https://vimeo.com/454883029, password: road

Text: Anna Sand / bySand
Photos: Anna Sand / bySand and private photo (Mr Talvitie)