Thousands of people witness the efforts of road and railway maintenance workers every day. For many, the traffic delays caused by maintenance work are a source of annoyance, resulting a lot of feedback.
Winter will soon once again come as a surprise to road users all around Finland. That is when the feedback on road maintenance starts to roll in. Even professional road maintenance workers are sometimes caught off guard by the continuous changes in the weather.
“Feedback starts to come in if, for example, road users feel that a stretch of road has not been ploughed often enough. We have an up-to-date situation picture based on weather forecasts, observations and assistive technology. However, in the countryside, the network of road weather stations or weather cameras is quite sparse. In addition, getting plowing equipment on site, for example, always takes time,” says Tuija Peltola, YIT’s Site Manager for the Lahti maintenance management project.
Professionals working at road and railway construction sites are scrutinised even more. Thousands of people pass their place of work each day. Many of the passers-by are in a hurry and they are not too pleased about the delays and the twists and turns caused by the construction site. The vast majority of road users still follow the given signs, and complaining to their fellow passengers is enough to satisfy their annoyance. However, not all act like that.
“Just recently, this one guy gave us the finger and almost ran over us. I hardly need to tell you that kind of thing doesn’t feel great,” says Antti Mustajärvi from YIT’s infrastructure projects. He is the Area Manager for one of the production blocks in the long-term Jokeri Light Rail project. They are building a fast light railway line between Itäkeskus in Helsinki and Keilaniemi in Espoo.
“Fortunately, there are far more of those with their thumbs up than those giving the finger. Some pedestrians may stop and exchange a few words, and a few have also given advice. They’re usually easy to get along with,” adds Mustajärvi.
Patience and respect towards the roadwork sign improves everyone’s safety.
“They just stand around again doing nothing”
Today, most of the feedback received by construction sites arrives through electronic channels, especially online forums and social media. Mustajärvi emphasises that the feedback consists of much more than just complaints. Often, the comments have raised some important issues and resulted in corrective actions.
And then there’s the other sort of feedback. One of the most common remarks is related to the pace of the work. Some passers-by always seem to think: “Once again they’re just standing around on the construction site doing nothing”.
With earthworks, the work is done underground and there’s always the possibility of surprises that will require a change of plans.
“It is typical of road and infrastructure projects that you can never be completely sure what you will find when you start digging. That means that the workers must be able to respond to whatever we find and take the time to plan our next move. Sometimes, you just have to stop working and talk it over,” says Mustajärvi.
“For example, the Tampere Tramway is progressing according to budget and schedule. It hasn’t been achieved just by standing around,” laughs Erkka Selonen, Area Manager for the Tramway Alliance of the Tampere Tramway project.
The more the site is finished, the better the feeling
The Tampere Tramway project has come a long way. All the rails of the Tampere Tramway have been installed and the tram test runs have begun. Erkka Selonen has noticed recently that people's attitude towards road construction in the area has become much more positive.
“During the first two years of construction, the residents were running out of faith with so many of the roads ripped up. Last year, 2019, was a turning point—that’s when we started to get the roads back to normal use. The mood now has increased even more as the tram has already been seen on the tracks. A lot of people had gathered to watch the first test runs, and many had smiles on their faces. The test run group told us that someone had even cheered,” says Selonen. And he promises to give a big cheer himself once the site is complete.
Read the longer version of the story
Street works completed faster, but how?
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