Planning options for Helsinki’s central pedestrian zone and underground distributor road to be decided

City Centre
13.9.2019
The City of Helsinki is in the process of studying the feasibility of an expansion of the central pedestrian zone with the aim to improve the central business district’s attractiveness and functionality and of constructing an underground distributor road to reduce traffic through the city centre and heavy street-level transport accessing the harbours. The central pedestrian zone and underground distributor road options that are to be presented to the Urban environment committee as deserving to be elaborated will be discussed at the committee’s meeting on 17 September 2019.

The City of Helsinki is in the process of studying the feasibility of an expansion of the central pedestrian zone with the aim to improve the central business district’s attractiveness and functionality and of constructing an underground distributor road to reduce traffic through the city centre and heavy street-level transport accessing the harbours. The central pedestrian zone and underground distributor road options that are to be presented to the Urban environment committee as deserving to be elaborated will be discussed at the committee’s meeting on 17 September 2019.

– At this stage of planning, the preliminary impact assessments enable us to compare the ideas that have been brought forward with sufficient accuracy. However, we will be able to evaluate the feasibility of the project as a whole only later after having conducted wider assessments based on plans that are more detailed, asserts project manager Katariina Baarman, who is based at Helsinki City Executive Office.

– For instance, the more concrete general planning of the central pedestrian zone is just about to begin. Up until this moment, we have examined issues only on a general level, but we have not yet mulled over what tangible measures to take in this or that spot in specific streets, Baarman says.

The seven idea-stage alternatives for the expansion of the central pedestrian zone and the construction of an underground distributor road have subsequent to municipal studies been moulded into a proposed basis for the further planning of the expansion of the central pedestrian zone and the construction of an underground distributor road.

The general planning of the central pedestrian zone is intended to start based on functional considerations. As for the central pedestrian zone, Kaivokatu has in the studies so far been assumed to be a transit mall. Concerning Pohjois- and Eteläesplanadi, two options have been studied.

The first option is based on both Pohjois- and Eteläesplanadi being single-lane streets, meaning that the pavement as a rule may be widened by the width of one traffic lane, whereby the Esplanade streets would remain symmetrical relative to the park. The second option assumes that there would be a unified and, compared to the current situation, clearly larger area of pedestrian streets, as Pohjoisesplanadi would serve as a pedestrian street, while Eteläesplanadi would be a 1+1 two-way street.

The underground distributor road wouldenable connections to all three harbours

The main tunnel of the underground distributor road is planned to be constructed from Länsiväylä to Hermannin rantatie to become mainly a 2+2 lane road with the objective of making it safe and having it last long into the future, also serving traffic to and from the harbours.

The planning of the underground distributor road should clarify the following items:

  • Link-ups with all three harbours and with the road system in their vicinity
  • Street-level link-ups with the western and eastern edges of the southern inner city, for instance, with Hietalahdenranta or Eiranranta and Laivasillankatu
  • Link-up with Siltavuorenranta and Sörnäisten rantatie
  • Link-ups with the central service tunnel
  • New possible parking facilities
  • Constructing the main tunnel and its link-ups in stages

The Urban environment committee will begin deliberating the plans at its meeting on 17 September. The meeting agenda will be published on 13 September and be made available on hel.fi/kaupunkiymparistolautakunta

An information meeting for the city residents regarding the expansion of the central pedestrian zone and the underground distributor road will take place 25 September 2019 at 5–6:30 p.m. at the City Hall event square.

Further information:

The Helsinki New Horizons web pages

Information meeting for the city residents on 25 September (The event on Facebook)