Espoo City Council approves project plan of Western Metro extension to Kivenlahti
Espoo will embark on launch construction work next year if certainty of a state subsidy is received
Residents of Kivenlahti, the westernmost suburb of Espoo along the Länsiväylä motorway, possibly nudged a shade closer to getting a Metro station yesterday.
The Espoo City councillors decided at their meeting on Monday that the Western Metro is to be extended onwards from Matinkylä to Kivenlahti "as soon as possible".
The City Council voted to approve the project plan of the Western Metro extension, and the vote in favour of the project was 62 to 5.
”The decision makes it possible to draw up zoning plans for new homes and to create new jobs. Now is the right time to build”, councillor Ville Lehtola (National Coalition Party) put the matter in a nutshell.
In other words, Espoo, for its part, is ready to continue construction work as soon as the tunnelling work on the section between Ruoholahti and Matinkylä has been completed - or next year at the earliest.
In this way it will be possible to achieve savings and increase speed, as the same workers could transfer right away to work on the extension.
One of the conditions set for the launch of construction work is that the state will have to provide 30 per cent of the funding, or slightly more than EUR 200 million.
The fact that a decision on the scheduling of the state’s contribution has not been made yet caused some concern at the Monday meeting.
”As long as there are no names on the paper and the money has not been paid into our bank account, we cannot be sure of the state’s contribution”, said councillor Kurt Byman (True Finns/Independent).
The state subsidy has been uncertain, as the government omitted the Metro from its transport policy report this spring.
After that Espoo has been carrying on negotiations in order that the project could be included in the letter of intent signed by the state and the 14 municipalities in the Helsinki region, the aim of which is to develop land use, housing, and traffic planning in the region.
However, no schedule of payment is mentioned in the letter of intent, either.
Most councillors were more concerned about how the state would interpret the situation, if the City Council were not unanimous enough on the project plan of the extension.
Many of them felt that voting against the project in the current climate would be downright irresponsible.
”The 30 per cent state subsidy could be in jeopardy if people hesitate here”, said Kari Uotila, Chairman of the Left Alliance group in the Espoo City Council.
At the same time, Antero Laukkanen of the Christian Democrats said that Espoo simply cannot afford the extension of the Western Metro.
”It would increase the city’s budgeted expenses so much that it would no longer be possible to control them”, said Laukkanen, who proposed that the project plan should be rejected.
He received support mainly from True Finns councillors.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Government agrees financing for Western Metro all the way to Kivenlahti (25.5.2012)
Espoo City Council approves Metro extension (20.5.2008)
Espoo extension of Helsinki Metro could still hinge on state subsidy (18.2.2008)
Official website for Länsimetro (Western Metro Extension)