In July 2018, an infrastructure project exceptional in Finnish settings was launched for conversion of the old Kimola timber rafting canal between Konnivesi and Iitin Pyhäjärvi for boating use. Based on the project, which is estimated to cost €20.8 million, the 7-kilometre canal will be dredged, widened, and provided with erosion protection required for boat traffic. In addition, the approximately 70 metres long rock tunnel will be broadened to dimensions allowing boat traffic.

The log crane used for timber transfer will be dismantled and a boat lock with total lock height of about 12 metres built in its place. The Kimola and Taipale bridges over the canal will also be renovated. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
The works are well underway

Fimpec Oy has been involved in the project since the construction preparation stage; currently, the company functions as the developer consultant and Safety Co-ordinator.

“We prepare procurement-related documentation and arrange contract tendering in co-operation with the Finnish Transport Agency. We also ensure that the project progresses on schedule and on budget, that the work quality and documentation are as planned, environmental impacts are minimized, and safety remains at a high level,” said Tommi Rantala and Tommi Rissanen, the employees responsible for the project at Fimpec.

According to them, the project has progressed in a good pace. By the end of November, the work bridges will be completed, and the piling for new bridges will be installed before the end of the year. As regards the fairway contract, the canal has been dredged, relief cutting works have been performed and erosion netting installed. Tunnel broadening is also underway and the old log crane has been dismantled.

Comprehensive skills are required

The Kimola Canal project combines several domains of infrastructure construction, plus a couple of special tasks. The boat tunnel is the only one of its kind in Finland, and no new canal locks have been built here since about 15 years ago. Moreover, the terrain along the Kimola Canal is geotechnically challenging, which complicates dredging and widening works and has required relief cuttings and counter-embankments.

The diversity of the project requires close co-operation from the participants, as well as the ability to respond quickly in problem situations. From the developer’s viewpoint, comprehensive experience is very important in such cases.

“Both of us have design, work site, and customer-side experience. This helps with anticipation, analysis of emerging situations, and problem-solving”, Rissanen says.

“It has also been helpful that the responsibility has been shared between two persons and both visit the site in turns. Owing to this, one of us is always there for the customer, providing the latest information on project progress. Such “pair work” has also been beneficial when solving challenging problems, and with Kimola, there have been many of those. In addition, the know-how of more than 50 Fimpec experts is always at our disposal,” Rantala adds.

View from the top of the tunnel towards Konnivesi, in the upstream direction.

View from the top of the tunnel towards Konnivesi, in the upstream direction.

Kimola Canal project in brief

  • Construction of the Kimola Canal commenced in 1962, it was inaugurated in August 1966. Timber rafting through the Canal was mainly over by 1999. The last rafting took place on 14 August 2002; since then, local activists have advocated for conversion of the Canal for boating use.
  • On-site Canal renovation works commenced in July 2018. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. The estimated project cost is €20.8 million.
  • The Canal is 7 kilometres long and it includes an approximately 70 metres long rock tunnel. The lock height of the new boat lock is 12 metres.
  • Once completed, the Canal will provide a new boating route from Kouvola (Voikkaa) to Päijänne and all the way to Pielavesi.
  • The customer is the Finnish Transport Agency. The state’s share in the financing amounts to 2/3 and the share of the local municipalities (Kouvola, Heinola, Iiti) to 1/3. Once completed, the Canal will become the property of the City of Kouvola.
  • The Canal project has been divided into three contracts. Kreate Oy carries out lock and fairway works, Destia builds the two bridges included under the project. Fimpec Oy functions as the project’s developer consultant and Safety Co-ordinator.

Fimpec as an infrastructure developer

The Kimola Canal is not the only infrastructure project in which Fimpec currently participates. Examples of other projects include:

Saimaa Canal lock extension planning management. The planning concerns renovation of upper lock gates complete with increasing of the lock length to approx. 11 metres, which would allow use of the Canal by larger vessels as compared to the ones using it today. Previous renovation of the Saimaa Canal was completed in 1968.

Ilmatar Energy Oy Piiparinmäki–Murtomäki (Pyhäntä, Kajaani) wind farm project, preliminary construction management studies. The project includes 50 turbine sites.

Hietama fishway construction management, for which Fimpec bears full responsibility, including outsourcing of the construction designs. The project provides migratory fish with the possibility of rising above the Hietamankoski power plant to the Saarijärvi route.

Vuonteensalmi Bridge, all-in contract supervision and acting as the Occupational Safety Co-ordinator. In addition to the building of a new bridge, the project includes re-routing of the fairway and re-engineering of the roads and junctions associated with the bridge built. The new bridge will replace the existing bridge in the Vuontee area of Laukaa, which was built in 1933 and suffers from weight restrictions and poor condition.

For more Fimpec infrastructure construction references, see References.