Building the Venice of the North

Case Study

Author: Karina Lumholt

Facing the Baltic Sea to the East, the Swedish capital of Stockholm is built on 14 islands in Lake Mälaren. Gamla Stan in the old town of the city centre is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. The many waterways and bridges over the canals are characteristic features of Stockholm – often referred to as Beauty on Water or simply Venice of the North.

The region is facing major challenges and the need for improved infrastructure is becoming more and more urgent. With approximately 30,000 people moving to the capital every year, equivalent to two buses full of people per day, Stockholm is currently one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in Europe. The transport system in the capital is vulnerable because there is only one north-south connection running through this city of great cultural and natural heritage.

Going underground to bypass Stockholm’s traffic bottlenecks

The Stockholm Bypass project, or Förbifarten, is a new 21-kilometre highway crossing the Swedish capital, part of the largest infrastructure projects ever made in Sweden. The planning of this 2.7-billion-Euro project commenced in 2006, preliminary construction started in 2014 and the opening is planned for 2026.

Great precautions have been taken to protect the landscape and surroundings that lie above the ground surface. To protect Stockholm’s valuable nature and historic sites, it has been decided to build approximately 18 km of the total 21 km through tunnels. Under lake Mälaren the construction will have a depth of 65 metres below the water body. 80 per cent will be financed by a congestion charge and 20 per cent by government funding, but the overall utility value is calculated to be paid back from the resulting economic development and reduced travelling time. With an estimated passing of 145,000 vehicles per day, the journey time through the city is calculated to be reduced to 15 minutes.

Starting at Kungens Kurva in the south and ending at Häggvik in the north, once the Stockholm Bypass project is finished, it will be the world’s second largest tunnel built in an urban area after the Yamate Tunnel in Tokyo.

Building at Kungens Kurva

Long-term customer of Leica Geosystems, Skanska Sverige AB, has won the 12.6-million-Euro contract for building the south entrance to the tunnel, connecting it to the E20 motorway at Kungens Kurva, the largest shopping area in Scandinavia and the busiest highway in Sweden. This high-profile project has a strong focus on security and is obliged to not slow down the traffic more than necessary.

Pontus Holmberg works as chief surveyor for Skanska Sverige at Kungens Kurva. Holmberg is managing field surveyors and the site fleet that mainly consists of drillers, excavators and dozers from different contractors, many of them equipped with machine control solutions from Leica Geosystems. Holmberg works with Leica ConX to transfer model files to the machines and the field crew working on site.

“When working with different contractors on a site like this, it is important that all are working with the latest updated files,” Holmberg explains. “Leica ConX helps me to track the machines from the office and transfer files to the machine in real time so everybody is on the same page.”

The Epiroc SmartRoc T35 driller working on the site is equipped with a 3D machine control solution that is tailor-made for Epiroc SmartRoc by Leica Geosystems and interfaces with Epiroc’s HNS sensor system.

The drill rig follows a digitally-defined pattern to drill holes into the rock for blasting. Traffic is stopped on the two highways that go around the job site, and blasting of the rocky underground is performed every day at either 10 A.M. or 2 P.M. The blasting is done under a carpet of old truck tires that are sewn together to avoid rocks falling onto the two roads.

“Two wheel loaders are standing ready at each side to clear the roads if rocks unintentionally fall on the highways making sure that the roads are blocked for a period of time as short as possible,” explains Dana Matti, project manager at Skanska Sverige.

Staying connected

Nicklas Gustafsson, owner of the company Granskogens Gräv, is one of the contractors working on site for one and a half years. Gustafsson uses the new Leica MCP80 machine control panel on site and he is content with the improvement. “The larger screen is easier to read, and the buttons are improved, so that is a great advantage,” says Gustafsson.

Gustafsson explains that it has been a difficult underground with rocks and high ground water level, and when building in the one of the busiest urban areas in Sweden it is important to have reliable technical solutions that minimise downtime.

“Solutions from Leica Geosystems help us staying connected with the site office and make sure that we have a flexible dataflow to support the workflows on the job site. I have worked with the machine control solution from Leica Geosystems on my Liebherr 926 Compact excavator for four years,” Gustafsson explains. “I am online on ConX for most of the day and receive my reference files from Pontus directly on the panel.”

Solutions from Leica Geosystems are key in the multiple stages of constructing interchanges, tunnels and temporary harbours for this big project. Machine control solutions, total stations, prisms and scanners from Leica Geosystems are some of the many products that are needed for a fast and efficient construction of projects at this scale.


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