Saturday, 30 June 2012

Despondency on Puławska

The greatest single impetus to Poland's transport infrastructure is over. What's built is built. I travelled out of Warsaw's Okęcie airport on the new train again today - fantastic it is; frequent departures, brand new rolling stock, informative signage. Gdańsk has a new airport terminal. Warsaw and Kraków are connected via motorways to western Europe.

However, the promised links to the east remain unfinished. There are still no motorways linking Poland's major conurbations with Belarus or Ukraine; Lublin and Białystok still lack international airports as well as motorways to Warsaw, and despite new trains and modernised stations, Poland's rail network is largely deplorable by western standards.

Above: Węzeł Marynarska, where the S79 will join southern Warsaw's existing road network, linking Mokotów to the S2 and onto the A2 at Konotopa. Looking westwards from W-wa Służewiec station. The work here is going on at a rapid pace. There's a huge hole in the ground along the route of the S79 near the airport that needs filling in, but otherwise, I see no major engineering or bureaucratic challenges ahead on this stretch.

Above: this is where things look tougher; Węzeł Puławska (węzeł= 'junction'), where the S2 will one day run over the top of Puławska and onward to the Belarusian border. This is a complex piece of engineering, with a tunnel, roundabout and viaduct all needing to be built, plus slip roads.

Above: the biggest problem, however, is what happens when the junction's built. There are currently no plans to do anything beyond ul. Puławska. In theory, a tunnel needs to dive down under the tower blocks and greenery to the right of this picture to emerge around the Vistula escarpment. Another bridge then needs to take the S2 across the river, and more expressway must then be built to connect the bridge on to the Mińsk Mazowiecki bypass. In practice, budgets are tight, a road above the ground will be fought against by residents. So for the time being - the viaduct being built here will be a classic bridge to nowhere.

Above: a broader perspective. I'm an optimist by nature, but I can't see the S2 being extended eastwards of Puławska for some time to come - barring a successful bid by Poland and Belarus to jointly host the 2026 World Cup. Which does beg the question - why bother building the viaduct at all? Why not end the S2 at Puławska and leave the pillars as monuments to over-ambition?

Puławska is an economically significant artery leading into Warsaw. It needs bus lanes in both directions; ZTM boss Leszek Ruta told me that a bus lane along Puławska will not happen until this junction is complete. This would suggest that commuters living south of here will continue to waste dozens of hours each working week for the foreseeable future.

It is time to call a spade a spade, recognise that taking the S2 over Puławska is an exercise in futility, finish the expressway here, with sliproads, roundabout and tunnel - paint on a bus lane and do it all quickly. And forget about linking Warsaw with our rather nonsensical eastern neighbour.

This time last year:
Stalking the stork

This time two years ago:
Bike ride along the Vistula

This time three years ago:
Late June lightning


toyah said...

Do you know how long it takes to get from Katowice to Kraków by train? 2.5 hours.

Anonymous said...

Michael - good post. One thing that is intriguing to me is what must be the most expensive pedestrian flyover on Pulawska near you. This thing has been under construction by my estimate, over 2 years. Seems like the workers are dilly dallying as their jobs may be over when the bridge opens.


Michael Dembinski said...

@ Toyah

I'm not surprised :) Dreadful!

@ Bob

This is a repeat of the farce on ul. Wawelska. The footbridge is finished, yet it has not been signed off by the myriad institutions (Sanepid, Urząd Miasta, Zarząd Dróg Miejskich,Konserwator Zabytków, Urząd Skarbowy, Główny Inspektorat Miar, Główny Inspektorat Budowlany, Centralny Urząd Nadzoru Technicznego...) Each one has to send a commission, write a report (in longhand), deliberate (each has a statutory 90 days in which to reach a decision) and finally issue a scrap of paper. Then the next one has to do the same thing.

It's a wonder anything works in this country!

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Bob

I forgot Centralny Inspectorat Planowania i Urbanistyki and the Miejskie, Powiatowe and Gminne versions of all the above institutions.

DC said...

Yes - what is the deal with that trip duration? I've been slowly planning a trip for later this year and saw this a couple of weeks ago. I have travelled from Kraków to Katowice before, but I sure don't remember 2.5 hours to cover 80 km. Is it maybe due to track improvements? Or am I a silly optimist with a bad memory?

Jacek said...

"- Hej młody Junaku, smutek zwalcz i strach. Przecież na tym piachu za 30 lat, przebiegnie z pewnością jasna długa prosta, szeroka jak morze Trasa Łazienkowska. I z brzegiem zepnie drugi brzeg, na którym twój ojciec legł! " ;)
cytat z filmu Miś.
Mało się zmieniło... :(