17 / 12 / 2020

Öst-Västliga Stråket’s Goal in Sight

A better life up here in the north – improved competitiveness, a better living environment for more people, and increased social, cultural, and economic integration – is the long-term goal for the project Öst-västliga stråket (East-West Route).
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The Region Positions Itself with Concrete Documents

A better life up here in the north – improved competitiveness, a better living environment for more people, and increased social, cultural, and economic integration – is the long-term goal for the project Öst-västliga stråket (East-West Route). Communications, infrastructure, and the transport system form the foundation of everything in a region with vast geography and long distances. This is the project’s premise.

 TEN-T-liikenneverkon runkoverkkokäytävät päättyivät aiemmin Pohjoismaiden pääkaupunkeihin, eivät pidemmälle pohjoiseen. Näiden runkoverkkokäytävien pidentämisellä on suuri merkitys alueille. Kun käytävät nyt kohtaavat pohjoisessa, pitäisi myös itä-länsisuuntainen väylä saada liitettyä niihin.

Mr Tomas Sikström has led the city of Umeå’s planning and development work in Sweden for several decades. For the past ten years, he has worked as an advisor to INAB – Infrastruktur i Umeå AB, a municipal company that strives to create efficient and sustainable logistics and transport solutions in the long term.

Inadequate Transport Systems Impact All Sectors

Mr Sikström is currently a consultant in the project Öst-västliga stråket, which aims to develop the east-west route and was launched in 2019 by the Kvarken Council. INAB participates as a project partner. The project is now in its final stage.

– Two other parallel Interreg projects were carried out in 2016–2019 with the purpose of acquiring more knowledge and statistics about the regions’ infrastructure and transport system. This project continues their work and aims to further develop the existing materials and elevate them to both national and European levels, Mr Sikström explains.

In order to foster continued development in the regions and in relation to the rest of Europe, transport and communications solutions must also be developed.

– They provide a basis for all development – an absolute prerequisite, Mr Sikström states. Inadequate communications affect everything in society; the economic life, education, health care, tourism, and export suffer from dysfunctional transports.

Every Reason to Position

The long-term goal is continued development – in a region that already lies at the forefront within several sectors.

– We’ve identified such sectors within the project and found unique competence. We have expertise and resources, but in order to continue their development, the regions’ transport and communications system must also be developed in all respects – roads, railroads and maritime transports, Mr Sikström tells.

We want to establish this in the project and show that we can accomplish things in the region that strengthen not only our own competitiveness but that of the entire Europe. Demonstrating this is important in the competition for EU funding.

– Positioning is the key, Mr Sikström continues. If our region receives development funding, it’s not a question of emergency relief but something that benefits even the rest of Europe and has significance at various levels.

Politically Anchored Document Leads the Way

The project’s chosen approach to achieve its goals is to first create a so-called positioning document. It is a concrete document where the region positions itself regarding its competence and competitiveness – and explains the benefits of this to the rest of Europe.

– Politicians stand behind our project’s strategy, and the next step is for our regional politicians to collaborate with the project and take it to the national level. The coronavirus pandemic prevented many important meetings, and we’re still some distance from the finish line, but we’ll continue to push this issue until the positioning document is signed, Mr Sikström promises.

After this, long-standing work will begin to produce a detailed plan involving all actors. – We’ll create a politically coordinated prioritization list – a list of measures with implications far beyond our borders, Mr Sikström concludes. 

Text: Anna Sand
Photo: Pressbild

The Öst-västliga stråket (East-West Route) project’s specific goal is to produce more strategies concerning sustainable east-west transports through the Botnia-Atlantica region in a national and European transport system. The Kvarken Council leads the project together with its project partner Infrastruktur i Umeå AB, and the project is co-funded by the city of Vaasa, Region Västerbotten, and the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia.

 CAPTIONS:

Sikström: Mr Tomas Sikström is a consultant in the project Öst-västliga stråket (East-West Route). The project’s long-term goal is to increase competitiveness and social, cultural, and economic integration as well a better living environment in the Botnia-Atlantica region. A functional transport and infrastructure system forms the foundation for all this.