Saturday, 14 July 2012

Ready but not open

I've been writing about our local footbridge over Puławska since the old one collapsed catastrophically in April 2010. Thank God no one was standing at the bus stop under it when a huge chunk of concrete fell off the footbridge, or indeed that no one was crossing at that time.

The footbridge was rightly closed; within a week temporary traffic lights were put up to allow residents of Green Ursynów (our part of the world) to cross one of Warsaw's busiest arteries.

In August 2010, the old footbridge was demolished. Not long afterwards, work started on a new one. Not a clanky, clumsy one, but a new-styled one with wheelchair lifts and cycle ramps at either end. Hurrah! But when will it be ready? In May, I mentioned that it was nearly done... the ramps needed to be extended down to pavement level. This work (which until then had progressed at a snail's pace) was finally completed at the end of May. The workers left the building site... And you would have thought that the temporary lights would disappear and ul. Puławska could flow smoothly from Karczunkowska through to Kapeli.

But no. Just like the footbridge on ul Wawelska, which took from completion on 23 March to 24 May to be formally accepted by the authorities and finally opened, the footbridge on Puławska has been ready for well over a month and half - and the traffic lights continue to hold up traffic, pedestrians are still forced to cross this way rather than safely over the top.

The concept of odbiór (formal acceptance) of a new piece of infrastructure is a piece of Polish bureaucratic nonsense that needs to be reformed. The footbridge needs to be signed off by Uncle Tom Cobley and All. The fire service (like, is the concrete flammable?), Sanepid, the state sanitary inspectorate, the City's road authority, ZDM, the heritage buildings conservator and others; each has a statutory 30 days to sign off, after which the next institution on the merry-go-round gets to go through the formal acceptance procedures. Of course, each does it on the 29th day - hence the annoying delay.

On Wawelska, the local people took the law into their own hands; when the footbridge was completed, they ripped down the red-and-white plastic tape and simply started to use it. THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN HERE, OH NO! On both sides of Puławska, wooden barriers have been erected (above), and a security guard is watching the installation from a yellow booth (just visible in to the far right of the photo below) to make sure there's no samowolka (taking the law into one's own hands).

Below: so in the meantime, people wanting to cross Puławska need to press a button and wait a long time for the lights to change red. They're red for a long time. At rush hours, literally hundreds of cars can be waiting in both directions, halted by a single pedestrian or cyclist. And when the light turns green, hundreds of cars rev up and accelerate, catching up lost time.

For the record. This is a 38 million zloty (£7 million) project to replace seven footbridges around Warsaw - average price £1 million each. Of this money, 22 million (£4 million) has come from the EU's Transport and Environment fund. So British taxpayers have also dipped their hands in their pockets for this one - and the galling thing is - it's ready, but not open. The traffic lights must turn red hundreds of times a day, each time releasing clouds of climate-changing exhaust fumes into the air.

Panie Urzędniku! Get out of your office, come to inspect the footbridge, sign it off and let it be used! As soon as possible! If a whole airport can be signed off in weeks, surely a footbridge will take less time?

This time last year:
Dusk along the Vistula

This time two years ago:
Mediterranean Kraków

This time three years ago:
Around Wisełka, Most Łazienkowski, Wilanowska by night

This time four years ago:
Summer storms

This time five years ago:
Golden time of day


Anonymous said...

Michael - good post. I have also been keeping an eye on the footbridge each time I pass under it. I have never seen something so simple take so long to complete. The contract for the works must have been based on # hours worked vs. complete job.

In terms of the final approval process, could not agree with you more. If it was 'me' I would have a hand delivered letter given to each authority inviting the to the 'completion tour' where they have the chance to write on their clip boards and start that 30 day clock ticking all at once. (however I am sure may will be 'busy just as a matter of push back)

As a matter of comparison (and credit due to the Piaseczno folks) - we wanted to remove a large tree recently, went and filled out the forms, 2 ladies and a driver came, measured said tree and gave us approval - all within 10 days - not bad.


student SGH said...

News from commuting front:

The footbridge has been opened and the lights turned off


Marcin said...

Hi Michael,

Compare a time of rebuilding of this footbridge with a time of building of the longest bridge in the world. I mean about this one Just four years of building of the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge. :)