Front Page: Tieto Traficom
Front Page: Tieto Traficom

Significance and service level of the low-traffic highway network

This situational picture provides information about Finland’s low-traffic highway network and service level. The situational picture is primarily updated twice a year. The information is produced by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. The information is part of the strategic situational picture of the Finnish transport network.

More than 50% of highways can be classified as low-volume

More than half of Finnish highways (43,500 km) can be classified as highways with low traffic volume with an average daily volume (KVL) of less than 350 vehicles. The investments into the low-volume road network have been insufficient, meaning that the condition of these roads has deteriorated and is very poor in places. Approximately 16,000 km of low-volume roads are paved, and approximately 20% of those are in poor condition. The rest, approximately 27,000 km of road, are gravel roads, of which 10% are in poor condition. In the spring, weight limits have to be set for 5–10% of gravel roads. 

The challenges of the low-volume road network include deteriorating condition, increasing maintenance backlog and winter maintenance, in particular. The condition and level of winter maintenance of these roads do not meet the expectations of all road users. Some of the roads need structural renovations. There are efforts to observe customer needs by employing precise measures, because large-scale repairs or elevation of the maintenance level is not possible. 

Daily commutes and transports can be carried out satisfactorily in the low-volume road network. Securing the level of service and maintaining road condition over the long term are important. Despite low volumes of traffic, the low-volume road network is very significant for local residents and many livelihoods. In terms of condition, the greatest impact is to the costs and opportunities of timber acquisition in the forestry sector. Approximately 2/3 of timber for forestry is hauled on low-volume roads. The functionality of travel and transport chains must be secured and the service level of the road network with the lowest traffic volume (more than 20,000 km, average daily traffic (KVL) less than 100 vehicles) must be maintained at a sufficient and satisfactory one.

The maintenance of high-volume roads will be prioritised in 2021–2032, meaning that the condition of the low-volume road network will deteriorate, at least in the first few years. The deterioration may be stopped if the funding for basic route maintenance increases significantly towards the end of the decade. More weight and speed limits must be set for roads in poor condition, which will increase transport costs. There are efforts to maintain the current level of winter maintenance. 

Even significant amounts of additional funding towards low-volume roads will not generate visible results in national impact indicators. This emphasises the importance of allocating maintenance funding based on needs, which ELY Centres are the best experts of in their respective areas.