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Helsinki Mayor not giving up on underground tunnel

The proposed tunnel from Sörnäinen to the West Harbour was rejected last week by the city's Urban Environment Board.

Pormestari Jan Vapaavuori haastattelussa länsimetron avajaispäivänä.
Helsinki's Mayor Jan Vapaavuori wants planning for the tunnel to continue. Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori has revealed via Twitter and his personal blog that he intends to refer the already-rejected downtown tunnel project back to Helsinki city council for further consideration. The council voted against proceeding with the project in September, and Helsinki city's Urban Environment Board rejected further planning for the underground tunnel project last week.

The proposed subterranean tunnel would have run for seven kilometres from Helsinki's Sörnäinen district to the West Harbour, allowing motorists to bypass Helsinki city centre, but the 1.4 billion euros price tag was considered too expensive by the board and less of a priority than making the capital more pedestrian friendly.

However, Vapaavuori believes that the preparations for the tunnel have not been fully or sufficiently investigated, and used his right as mayor to refer the issue to the city board for discussion even though it was rejected by the planning committee after the Social Democrats announced they would not support it.

"My intent is not to try to advance the downtown tunnel through the city council, but to ensure that the normal decision-making process is followed. Nor is it my intention to open up a new exploration of the tunnel project, but rather a new overall traffic plan", the mayor wrote on Twitter.

Chairman of the city council, Otso Kivekäs, told Yle that he has not yet seen Vapaavuori's new proposal, but he does not believe that the central tunnel will be explored any further.

"It is of course possible to make presentations and explanations from different angles. The same groups that made the decision on the downtown tunnel in the Urban Environment Committee also have a majority in the city government and the city council. I think it is clear for all groups that the decision has now been made,” Kivekäs said.

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