Winter and Ice Roads
Metsähallitus constructs annually 500–700 kilometres of various winter roads, mostly in Northern Finland. The roads are designed to access harvesting sites in locations where it is not profitable to build a summer road, or the construction and use of a summer road is not feasible for reasons of conservation.
Roadbeds are established on level heaths or mires by compacting snow, levelling roadbeds by excavator or bulldozer or spreading the soil from the ditches to make a bank road. Generally the roads are only trafficable when there is enough snow and it has been used to smooth out uneven spots. The roads will bear harvesters and timber trucks when the roadbed is frozen deep enough.
In Northern Finland, timber is mainly harvested and forwarded to winter roads in January–March, after which the focus of harvesting is transferred to sites along summer roads. Generally the timber must be hauled away from winter roads by mid-April.
Winter roads are equipped with various road signs as necessary. Normally winter roads are accessible to everyone, but travel may be difficult due to uneven surfaces.
In order to reach harvesting sites located on islands and beyond water bodies, 10–20 km of ice roads are built annually in Eastern and Northern Finland. Sites accessible by an ice road are ideally combined into larger harvests because of the expense of ice road construction.
Ice roads are constructed by compacting snow and pumping water from holes in the ice onto a road area that measures about 50 metres wide. Records are kept of the development of ice thickness, and an inspection is conducted before the road can be opened. The ice must be about 120 cm thick before it will carry a fully loaded timber truck. The timber must be hauled away from ice roads by the end of March.
Ice roads are equipped with the necessary warning and other road signs. After use, ice roads are normally closed in order to prevent access by cars as the bearing capacity of the ice is reduced.