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The Norra länken (northern link) tunnel project is an important piece of the puzzle for solving the Stockholm region’s traffic problems. At the same time, it is creating a host of new opportunities for the city and all of its inhabitants.
The National Road Administration Stockholm has given Skanska the task of building two of six subprojects on the Norra länken. One of these subprojects is situated at Norrtull, NL11, and will serve as Norra länken’s entrance and exit to E4 and Uppsalavägen.
We are primarily building a rock tunnel, a concrete tunnel and related road work and are employing an average of 50 people.
We are very proud that the project has been awarded the Swedish Transport Administration’s work environment award two years in a row. The key to our success is that we are continually implementing a large number of activities to reduce incidents and accidents in the workplace.
The project is being carried out at Sweden’s most heavily trafficked intersection, close to the heavily used E4 in an inner city environment, in a small area with numerous restrictions. It also involves one of the biggest risks that the administration has undertaken, namely the safe handling of Karolinska Hospital.
Planning is of critical importance for the safe and efficient implementation of this project. Thanks to careful logistics and long-term planning, we are also anticipating completion of the work 18 months ahead of schedule.
“Everything needs to get done in the correct order. For the rock tunnel, we are working every day of the week, around the clock. Not only so that we disrupt Karolinska Hospital’s operations as little as possible, but also so that we can move forward with other aspects of the project,” says Max Juhlin, District Manager for Skanska Sweden.
Work on the concrete tunnel started after completion of rock tunnel
“It is preferable to work in mild weather conditions, without the cold and snow, which is why we have been working ten hour days, six days a week. By Christmas 2009 we will be finished with the concrete tunnel. Our goal is to be done with the entire project by December 2010,” says Max Juhlin.
Another success factor is that the project has been so heavily staffed. Already at an early phase, a number of key individuals became involved and have continued to work on the project. Many of them had previous experience from the Södra länken tunnel and other similar projects.
Norra länken extends between Karlberg and Värtan and is the third phase of Stockholm’s ring road for highway traffic. The two previous phases are Essingeleden and Södra länken. Östra länken, the fourth planned phase, is envisioned to extend between Värtahamnen and Nacka.
The environmental benefits from Norra länken are significant since the largest portion of the project runs through underground tunnels. Inner city roads will be significantly unburdened; it is estimated that the amount of traffic along Valhallavägen will be halved.
Max JuhlinSkanska Sweden+46 10 44 81 082
Mejl Max Juhlin
Marknadssegment: Civil, Roads, Bridges, Underground/tunnels
Skanska’s work at Norrtull, NL11, is creating a better and more pleasant entrance into Stockholm. Traffic on Valhallavägen, currently one of Sweden’s most heavily trafficked roads, is expected to be reduced by half. In order to prevent an increase in air pollution at the tunnel entrances, air from the tunnels will be vented out through a ventilation tower.
Norra länken runs primarily through tunnels. Once car and truck traffic is fed down into them, it will improve the traffic situation considerably in the Stockholm region.
There will be fewer cars in the inner city and as a result fewer accidents and a safer traffic environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. Noise levels will be lower and carbon dioxide levels will drop.
Norra länken can handle a greater amount of traffic than the current road setup. This will result in improved accessibility and, in many instances, even shorter travel times.
Environmentally friendly choices in our work have also been important. We have actively chosen to use synthetic diesel in the tunneling machines since that is a cleaner fuel and creates better air to breath.
Dustex is a waste product from the forestry industry that we spread out on our gravel roads to bind up the dust. The good thing about this is that the dust binding works for a long time, several months, and is also tolerant of rain. If we had instead used the traditional method of watering, it would only have stayed dust-free for a few days.
Skanska’s assignment consists of several different parts – a rock tunnel including a ventilation tunnel, a concrete tunnel, two operational spaces, a pump station and road work. The client is Vägverket Stockholm.
Handling a project of this size is a challenge in and of itself. We are also working in Stockholm’s most heavily trafficked intersection where over 100,000 vehicles pass through each day. Traffic must continue to flow as usual even as we need to take Karolinska Hospital’s operations into consideration as well as all of those who live and visit the area. Moreover, we are operating in a very crowded space with numerous restrictions.
Consequently, planning is critical. Right from the outset we involved a number of key individuals who created the long-term plan and developed safe and efficient solutions. That work resulted in us now anticipating being able to complete the project 18 months ahead of schedule.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that Skanska’s large size as an international company has been utilized for the first time on our home turf with Skanska Slovakia serving as a subcontractor for the tunnel work.
The rock tunnel runs beneath Karolinska Hospital and has therefore been dubbed the Karolinska tunnel. The tunnel also runs below the Eugenia tunnel, with only 70 cm between the two tunnels. In other words, there is no margin of error.
Work on the rock tunnel began in 2008 and was completed in 2009. A total of 102 blasts were made. Before each blast, between 100 and 250 holes were made in the rock. The holes were between two and six meters long and were filled with blasting agents.
Planning and caution were of the utmost importance during this phase. No hole could be drilled crooked, no hole could be overfilled and no holes could be blasted simultaneously.
When it was time to blast, traffic was shut down for a couple of minutes. Once the dust settled, several hundred tons of blasted rock had to be transported out with the help of trucks.
The tunnel rock was then secured using bolts and covered in sprayed concrete so that no stones would loosen and fall down.
The entire Karolinska tunnel was then covered with rubber cloth to prevent water from leaking into the tunnel. This is a new method that we developed during work on Södra länken. An additional 10 cm of sprayed concrete was then applied over the rubber cloth, protecting the cloth and helping it to withstand future ice and explosion loads. The ceiling is painted in a brighter color to guide motorists.
The blasting was planned in consultation with Karolinska Hospital since the tunnel runs directly beneath sensitive equipment at the hospital, including an MRI camera. We therefore blasted more cautiously than normal and informed the hospital several days in advance, sending both text messages and e-mails a half hour before blasting commenced.
In addition, 30 measuring devices were placed to measure vibrations after each blast. The goal of the rock blasting team was that we would not have a single vibration violation, and that is something we managed to accomplish.
The hospital even had a special telephone hotline to the blasting managers that they could use to cancel a planned blast if they received a sick or injured person that required immediate scanning.
When the rock tunnel was completed, we started work on the concrete tunnel. For that, we relied on our own engineers, Skanska Teknik, to do the projecting work and to create the building structure.
With a concrete tunnel we are not working underground but instead creating an open pit. Rock walls are reinforced with netting, rock bolts and sprayed concrete so that we can work safely. From there we proceed to build a concrete tunnel that looks like a 10 x 10 meter rectangle. Once the tunnel is fully cast the entire surface will be covered with topsoil and Äppelparken above will be restored.
Work on NL11, at Norrtull, began in 2008 and we anticipate that the project will be completed by December 2010.
700 meter long rock tunnel 245 meter long concrete tunnel 50,000 m3 of rock blasted away above ground 50,000 m3 of rock blasted away underground 12,000 m3of concrete