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Tero Rahkonen, M. Sc. (Tech.), Senior Designer, Traffic Planning

Tero Rahkonen knows what he wants and always finishes what he starts. He took his degree at Helsinki University of Technology in Otaniemi, without once changing his study programme or main subject. His main subject was, of course, traffic engineering.

“Traffic planning allows you to really challenge yourself”

Tero does not admit that he would have dreamed of becoming a traffic designer when he was at school. “Or at least, I would never admit it at this point of my career,” he says, grinning. However, as Tero began to study, community and environmental engineering was a new study programme at the University of Technology, and it seemed very promising. “At that point, I could have opted for water supply engineering or even road and street planning.”

But in the end, traffic planning won.

The University of Technology is today known as Aalto University. In Otaniemi, students studying community and environmental engineering still ponder about water and traffic issues.

Tero began to work by the hour at Sito when he was still studying, and he ended up being Sito employee. For the first seven years, Tero worked in Espoo, but today his primary work location is Tampere.

Tero says that the traffic planning years at Sito have been an interesting learning experience – the Sito way of planning is, especially to a young designer, a safe way to learn and to grasp the ropes. The team includes not only more experienced traffic designers but also designers and specialists of various other fields. According to Tero, the way of working is very encouraging and inspiring.

A traffic designer’s work is never boring. The assignments are very different, and you usually work on several projects at the same time. Not all projects are large and impressive, some of small and do not take much time.

According to Tero, the size of the project does not really matter. Sometimes relatively small projects with exceptional task setting are the most interesting and challenging ones. “In those projects, you can combine things in a new way, and they allow you to challenge yourself and your knowhow.

Having participated in so numerous and very diverse projects, Tero finds it difficult to pick a few favourites. Perhaps a significant, recent project that has attracted a lot of attention is worth a mention: traffic planning associated with the development project of the Tapiola centre in Espoo is one of the most extensive planning assignments he has had. The very diverse traffic planning relating to the project has also lasted exceptionally long, as it began as early as 2009.

Another interesting but entirely different assignment has been planning the traffic arrangements of the bioproduct mill in Äänekoski. “A truck driver with a truck full of logs drives differently from a driver on her way to work in Espoo, but both can cause a minor traffic jam,” says Tero.

Tero is one of Sito’s traffic modelling and simulation specialists. When Tero began to work at Sito in 2006, the company had two or three people with modelling skills. “Now we have around 15 professionals doing modelling,” he says.

Traffic models and simulations have an increasingly important role in traffic planning. “Instead of planning roads, we now focus increasingly on more complicated street environments and urban projects. The challenge they pose is how to combine more efficient use of space with everyday effectiveness. By using simulation and modelling, our aim is to find satisfactory answers and eliminate hopeless planning solutions in advance,” says Tero.

Tero lives with his wife and 7 and 4 year old children in the town of Akaa. He likes spending free time out in the Nature, hiking. boating and – as so many other Finns – “relaxing” at the summerhouse. Fairly satisfied with his life, the traffic designer dreams of maybe becoming a sheep farmer one day, as he is a country boy at heart.

Text: Dakota Lavento