From log-floating to boating – the Kimola channel has been opened

The conversion of the old Kimola log floating canal between Konnivesi and Pyhäjärvi in Kouvola for boating use was an exceptional infrastructure project in Finnish conditions. The conversion work, which took around two years, involved dredging the 5.5km-long stretch of canal built in the 1960s, widening it for boating, and building erosion protection along both banks.  The old bundle gantry cranes along the log-floating canal were dismantled and replaced with a sluice measuring 35m in length and 8m in width, with a sluicing height of 12 metres. A unique feature of the canal is the 70m-long old log-floating tunnel which is immediately adjacent to the sluice and which has been expanded and reinforced for boating. The clearance of the tunnel and the new Kimola and Taipale bridges which span the canal, is 4.8 metres.

Fimpec Oy was involved in the project from construction preparations and acted as a construction management consultant and safety coordinator.

The Kimola canal tunnel is 70m long with a clearance of 4.8 metres.

“Before actual construction work was initiated, we compiled procurement-related documents and tendered the contracts together with the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. During construction work, our work focused on supervision and on anticipating and resolving various challenges together with contractors and the owner. We were also tasked with minimising environmental disruption and maintaining a high level of safety. Investing in safety was well worth the effort, as out of the four contracts, only one incident leading to an absence occurred when a worker had their eye checked by a doctor after some fuel spatter got into their eye during refuelling. There were also a few near-miss situations, which were analysed with the contractor,” explains Fimpec’s Tommi Rissanen, who was responsible for the project.

He believes that everyone who worked on the project found it both interesting and educational. The boat tunnel is the only one of its kind in Finland, and the last new canal sluice to be built in Finland was constructed in the early 2000s when the Juankoski and Karjalankoski canals were completed. It is most likely that the Kimola canal is unrivalled in Finland with regard to the geotechnical complexity of the terrain and the canal’s length. This was evident from the interest in the project.

“During the construction phase, the sluice site attracted so much interest that it almost caused some disruption, and hundreds of people were present when we opened the sluice on 3.8.2020. Sluicing figures during the first week (approximately 25 per day) showed that there is an interest in the new boating route. I wonder if there will be a new boom in canal construction and inland waterway tourism now that coronavirus has increased domestic tourism, and people are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues and local tourism,” ponders Rissanen, and adds that at least Fimpec is prepared to take on the challenge and enthusiastically participate in future canal projects.

“The Kimola canal was an excellent project for us. It offered the opportunity to use our competence with complex structures and to further develop it with future projects in mind.  In this regard, the project was exceptionally multifaceted,” says Business Unit Director Jorma Paananen from Fimpec.

Our experience with waterway construction has also been utilised in Koskienegia Oy’s Kuhankoski power plant project and in Vattenfall’s Hietamakoski and Leukunkoski fishway projects.

The sluice is 35 metres long, 8 metres wide, and has a sluicing height of 12 metres.

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