Mad, bad, and sad – just a road in Pasila

Dear reader,

Do you recall JHJ getting rather hot under the collar about the comprehension-defying prospect of a new major road flooding Helsinki’s lovely peninsula with ever more cars? About a year ago on this very blog?

Driving a massive road through an as-yet-unbuilt residential area is crazy on any number of grounds. Articulate critical voices in the blogosphere and even, amazingly, on the letters page of Helsingin Sanomat on 16.4.2013 have made that much clear.

Blog posts today, e.g. here and here, indicate that friends of progressive transport planning in Helsinki are simply dumbfounded.

Trailing behind everyone else once again, Helsinki is about to build a brand new road including an enormous underpass. Nothing of this scale exists here yet.

Where such massive underpasses for cars do exist, they tend to be liked by drivers (from other places) in a hurry. Most other people fear and loathe them. Some cities are turning them back into useful spaces for real people, reconnecting neighbourhoods that were earlier disconnected by … er… roads like the proposed Veturitie.

Veturitie KSV 4.2013

And this also feels like a grim day for democracy in Helsinki. As massive a road as this in this place, with its patchwork of land ownership, and with the superlative-defying monetary, spatial and human resources that are being poured into the vast “regeneration exercise” of which it is a part, must have been pushed through the system (even in as complacent a city as Helsinki) by dedicated and big-stakes behind-the-scenes horsetrading.

Unfortunately, unlike at, say King’s Cross in London, where local residents took up arms and waged battles for years and years, here Helsinki’s planners and politicians are in the fortunate position (disastrous for future generations as it may be) of working in an area that is almost tabula rasa.

Mad, bad and sad.




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4 responses to “Mad, bad, and sad – just a road in Pasila

  1. JeesHelsinki

    Finnish readers, take a look here.
    Democracy in Helsinki is not what it should be, we fear.

  2. Ian Barrere

    Is there anything that citizens can do about it at this point? My city has a huge highway running through it (like many American cities) and I hope no city (especially one like Helsinki) should suffer the same fate.

    • JeesHelsinki

      Hi Ian, at this point it’s unclear if anything could be done. One’s sense of justice says there has to be. Firstly on substantive grounds (the project is disastrous on so many counts) and on procedural counts. It appears that the committee were rubber stamping a decision made prior to their involvement by the city’s real estate arm with the state. I’m not sure if this might turn out to be illegal on some count.
      For some folks this might signal the start of a more robust kind of civil disobedience. Then again, in Helsinki terrible things often pass with some swearing and a shrugging of tired shoulders.

      • Ian Barrere

        That’s a shame. I hope somebody can show them that it’s not worth it before a mistake of this magnitude is made.

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