Saturday, 23 June 2012

Motorway links outskirts of Łódź and Warsaw

To the surprise of many observers of infrastructure development, the A2 from Stryków (17km north of the centre of Łódź, debatably Poland's second city) was opened through to Warsaw's western periphery (12km west of the centre). Officially, not opened, but 'declared passable' to cars and light goods vehicles (to 3.5 tonnes). The two controversial sections that the Chinese contractor Covec was meant to build but didn't were very nearly completed in time, lacking just a top coat of bitumen.

So then. To Łódź I drove today with Eddie to pick up Moni's things as she finishes term at the film school. The first navigational problem was where to get onto the new A2 if you are coming from southern Warsaw. As regular readers know by now, the S2, which will take the A2 through the capital's southern suburbs and on to the Belarusian border and thence on to Moscow, is nowhere near ready. There are two choices - head south-west towards Pruszków and pick up the A2 there, or head west towards Połczyńska and join the S8 and swing down towards the A2 at Konotopa. We took the former route out and the latter one back, both are absolutely sub-optimal but mercifully short compared to the old roads to Łódź. For once on the motorway - wonderful.

Above: The sign says Warszawa. We've just got onto the A2 at Stryków, and a hundred kilometres of new motorway beckon between here and ul. Półczyńska, a little to the west of Warsaw's city limits. Photo by Eddie, by the way.

The two 'passable' sections had speed limits of 70kmh/43mph and were noticeably bumpier than the completed bits. Having said that, 70kmh was a bit, restrictive; 90kmh would have been more reasonable. Police cars patrol the stretches to ensure motorists abide by the limit; on the way back we laughed as a foolhardy chap in a black van towing a trailer overtook a column of obedient drivers in slow procession behind a patrol car. He swung out into the fast lane (the A2 is a mere two lanes each way) and charged past the policemen at 120 or so. Predictable response - the police speed up, everyone behind the police speeds up, blue lights are applied, the van driver's hauled over to the side of the highway.

The new road uses the path of the abandoned Olimpijka motorway, which was meant to be ready of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Once a photogenic 'road to nowhere', the old ghost viaducts and overgrown carriageways have all gone, and sadly I never got out to photograph them myself. Still, there are many pics on Google Earth and elsewhere (look between Bolimów and Wiskitki).

Right now, the A2 is a joy to use; not much traffic (picture at the top reflected most of the journey) and no tolls (there will be two toll-gates on this section when the motorway's ready). But a turn-off at Węzeł Konotopa for an S2 to take traffic eastwards (at least) to Puławska is sorely lacking. And there are no services open on the Stryków-Konotopa section, so make sure you don't run out of petrol!

Even so, it's progress; driving home from Łódź today took me two hours, compared to the four hours it took at the beginning of term before the A2 was opened. The completion of the S2 will shave a further 20 minutes off the time.

A fuller description of the road, its good points and bad points, here, on the Politics, Economy, Society blog.


student SGH said...

Funnily enough, I also went by car to Łódź via A2 yesterday in the afternoon. Also to handle some stuff, pop over to Piotrkowska for a while and back. Shame we didn't know about each others plans - could have gone by one car

Michael Dembinski said...

@ student SGH
Our car was so full, I could barely see out of the rear window :) All that was missing was Moni's rat, Ratboy (female) in its cage, and bass guitar and amplifier. Other than that, enough clothes to stock a decent-sized Łódzki Lumpeks, suitcase (big), rucksack (huge), and various other bags of ephemera and collectables.

I've linked your excellent post to this one!

student SGH said...

Everything except the kitchen sink, you say. Could fit into my more capacious car.

Regarding the routes - wouldn't it be an alternative to go via Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Brwinów and Nadarzyn? Maybe I'll try it out in August

Michael Dembinski said...

@ student SGH

PES - Done!

Grodzisk, Brwinów... we'll have plenty of time to try out all the possible permutations of routes before the S2 finally opens - Christmas 2013? I can't see it happening much earlier :(

sportif said...

Michał, nie Półczyńska - tylko Połczyńska. Łódź nie jest drugim, ale trzecim co do liczby mieszkańców miastem w PL.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Sportif -

Połczyńska - corrected :)

Łódź - I wrote 'debatably' because different sources cite different figures. The issue of the size of Poland's urban populations is thorny. If you ask me, no.1 is the Silesian agglomeration, no. 2 the Warsaw agglomeration, no. 3 Tri-City agglomeration (from Wejherowo to Pruszcz Gdański), no. 4 Łódź-Pabianice agglomeration...

The other problem is counting meldunki - many people in Poland's cities don't actually live where they are registered.