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by Nick Drew  |  Fri 22 Jan 2021

A Very Historic & Scenic Road Job

Something a bit different today on the Digger Man Blog. My Swedish friend and long-term supporter of the blog Robert Carlsson, was inspired by my post on 17th December last year entitled, “Building the M1” (Archive Footage) so much so that he contacted me to tell me about a similar video which documents the building of the E4 at Vätterleden in Sweden

A Very Historic & Scenic Road Job

Robert has supplied some background on the location and the job. Vätterleden is a 70km long section of the E4 motorway which was built in late fifties to early seventies. The route passes by Sweden’s second largest lake to west of Vätterleden, Lake Vättern which has a depth of 128m.

Vätterleden is considered to be one of Sweden’s most beautiful roads, as you will see in the video below, with the lake on one side and the steep hills on the east side.

As a side note Vättern is a part of Göta kanal (canal), a 190 km water way from Lake Vänern to the Baltic Sea. The Göta kanal was by far the largest building project in Sweden’s history until that day. It was dug manually by 58 000 workers from 1810 to 1832.

The new road was constructed due to the fact that the old road called Riksväg 1 was dangerous and caused many accidents.

The contractor for this project was "Skånska Cementgjuteriet", now more commonly known by its international name Skanska, a long-established contractor.

Robert says, “Look at the difference of the equipment as well as the trucks and cars from the beginning to the end of the film. One can clearly see the development of newer machines and equipment.

And just like you, they drive on the wrong side of the road. Sweden shifted to driving on the right-hand side on the 3rd of September 1967.  

At the 25:50 and 35:35 minute mark in the video, see how they drilled for rock blasting, climbing 20-30m vertically with all that heavy equipment, around 135 tonnes of dynamite was used.

At the 26:50 mark it shows how a landslide of rocks fell down on a digger but fortunately, nobody was hurt in the incident. Luckily the digger had just backed out, and was waiting for trucks to load when the landslide happened. The operator had taken a short break out of the cab so he wasn´t even in the digger.

The problems with rock falls continued and now there is steel net reinforcing in the bed rock to protect the traffic below.

At 28:39, 28:50, the footage and commentary is about how they had to construct a new water outlet from Edeskvarna Power Station. The 58 m long outlet tube was constructed on the beaches of Huskvarna (about 8,5 km south of Edeskvarna), sealed and floated to its right location where it was filled with water until it sunk on its sand bed.

M/S Stjernorp (passenger vessle built 1870, last known location was as a floating hotell outside of Stockholm in 2007) did the towing.

At 37:40, we see that they had to climb almost straight uphill in 70-80 cm of snow for 20-30 minutes each morning to get to the machines, could you imagine anyone doing that today?!

Phase two of the project. And at 43:02 in the film, look at that scraper passing the road! Scrapers have never really been a common sight in Sweden, so this is rare footage!

At 43:33, three big and eight small bridges were constructed, the biggest one was 174m long, depth below bridge to bottom of the ravine 50 m. And during construction a really old (ancient) house was saved by moving it 20m.

Anyway, that’s enough text, grab a coffee sit back and enjoy the footage, its probably fair to say its best to watch as a silent movie, unless you speak Swedish!

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