Managing disturbances caused by street construction sites

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Objective of the assessment

The main question in the assessment was whether the disturbances caused by street construction sites are managed sufficiently. This was assessed by determining whether disturbance management systems have been able to sufficiently describe how the disturbances caused by construction sites are prevented or minimised; whether the City has taken action if the prevention or minimisation of disturbances is at an insufficient level; and whether the disturbances caused by street construction sites have been successfully managed with a procedure. According to the City Strategy for 2017–2021, in a functional city street construction work is carried out in a manner that disturbs the everyday life of residents as little as possible. The mayor launched a large-scale project in the Urban Environment Division for the period 2019–2021 in order to reduce disturbances caused by street construction sites. The Audit Committee’s assessment focused on the procedures developed for assessing the harmlessness of street construction sites.

Conclusions

The oversight of the disturbances caused by street construction sites by the City of Helsinki cannot be considered to be sufficient. Disturbance management systems, the Haitaton tool and the disturbance management plan prepared in conjunction with an excavation notification are mainly used by major professional construction operators. They are responsible for roughly half of the street construction work in the Helsinki area. The rest of the work is carried out by a great number of operators who have highly varying notions about the disturbances caused by street construction work. The assessment found a need for coherent procedural guidelines that would combine the planning, construction and control of street areas, as the matter is being handled by several parties in the Urban Environment Division. The City’s own control unit is too small to monitor the disturbance management plans related to excavation notifications, which leads to the control measures carried out during the work being sporadic. The solution proposed for this was that the City take care of its key street areas with its own service providers, utilise the in-house control of professional construction operators, as well as incentive and sanction procedures in agreements, and use a pricing principle other than the total price when working with private contractors.

The Audit Committee concludes that

the Urban Environment Division must

  • prepare common guidelines for the planning, construction contracting and control process related to street construction work;
  • utilise its own service providers more in the construction of key street areas to retain the expertise within the City and introduce reward and sanction mechanisms that encourage operators to reduce disturbances from street construction sites and strive for efficiency;
  • develop a procedure for utilising the in-house control of professional construction operators.

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In Assessment Report: