The sea connects generations of water works and shore construction

The sea is vast and unknown but, at its best, the diversity, winds and waves can offer a lifelong learning process. This is how two of our water works and shore construction specialists, Construction Manager Urpo Merivirta (61) and Site Manager Jyrki Jussila (28), see the sea.

“I remember very well when I started working in 1984. In the spring, I graduated from the Tampere Institute of Technology as an engineer of road and water works and a week after May Day, I started my career. Back then, my employer was Vesto Oy that carried out excavations, dredging, tunnelling and bridge construction work. Quite soon, the company’s name was changed into YIT but the work has continued until today,” says Urpo, recounting the twists and turns of his career.

Jyrki represents the new generation of water works and infrastructure construction. Already as a summer worker, he saw YIT as a company that ensures that everything goes smoothly as well as looks after sites and employees. Jyrki graduated as a construction engineer from Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in 2016, and he carried out all his practical trainings at YIT. Later, this landed him a permanent job in the company.

All the work we cannot see

Careful infrastructure construction is the foundation of large-scale projects that climb towards the sky in front of our eyes. Railroads, streets, ports, harbours and bridges can last only if they have been designed and realised in a manner meeting the requirements set by the environment. This is particularly important in water works and shore construction as outsiders can never see most of the work that has been done.

Projects by the water can also be extremely challenging. Working in the sea can also be hazardous at times, which means that you have to trust in your experience and common sense.

“You always have to get to know your projects thoroughly and the circumstances must be monitored continuously, also during the night and at weekends. In our line of business, the sea is the greatest reason for making work difficult at times: big waves caused by the wind, fluctuation of sea level and crammed places are things we have be prepared to deal with. If these are not taken into account, something might break at the mercy of nature, which again will immediately affect the completion schedule,” says Urpo.

Unique projects leave permanent marks

The exceptional nature of water works and shore construction has left its mark on the people working in it. Over the years, YIT has realised many significant water works and shore construction projects all the way from Hamina to Tornio. Urpo speaks warmly of the most memorable projects.

“The first project that comes to mind is the Vuosaari harbour and year 2007. We built almost a kilometre of quay in Vuosaari back then. We didn’t do the edge beams but we did manufacture the elements and install them. The project was of such scale that you really don’t see that every day.”

Jyrki’s years at YIT have contained a lot, too, even though he has only just started his career. The first project at Jätkäsaari, Helsinki was a powerful experience for a young man. In addition, Juha Vainion katu in Kotka is among the finest projects he has had the privilege of participating in.

“Before the ocean pier in Jätkäsaari, I had operated a regular excavator. But then I got to go on the ferry and saw a machine ten times the size of an excavator – that alone was enough to impress me. In Kotka, Juha Vainion katu was a challenging project in which a new street, sidewalk, lighting and a bridge were built on a fill. The project was a success and turned out so good I think I’m allowed to be a little bit proud of it.”

Dividing the legacy of competence

A key thing about cherishing the legacy of water works and shore construction is that young professionals are included in a group of experienced and seasoned experts. Jyrki appreciates having a construction veteran like Urpo as his working partner.

“Even if it hasn’t been that long since I was in school, I’ve learnt the most from people like Urpo who have been in this line of business for decades and decades. They have some many old tricks and good ideas to share that listening to them carefully is essential.”

Read more about Urpo’s and Jyrki’s story

Read more about water works and shore construction

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The pictures of Urpo and Jyrki have not been taken at a work site.