Looking at how much there's still to do, and how fast the work has progressed so far, I'd rather bet on a late-November ribbon-cutting ceremony. If this project had been a public-private partnership, it would have opened last June. UK experience on PPPs shows that nearly 90% of projects are completed on time - because the private sector operator doesn't earn dime one until the infrastructure is made available to the public. From the road user's point of view, a toll-road is a toll-road; whether one's money goes to a public-sector operator (behind schedule and over budget) or to a private sector one (UK experience is that they complete on time and within budget) is not an issue. What is an issue is the ability to deliver. Poland's infrastructure is delivered in an exceedingly slow way.
Remember that good infrastructure builds rich nations, and that new roads boost local GDP, creating new job opportunities (for example, unemployment in Stryków, north of Łódź, fell from 13% to just 5%, when the A1/A2 motorways finally met there last year).
So - how's the S79 looking? Below: looking north from Węzeł Lotnisko towards the city centre. That's Warsaw Trade Tower on the horizon. Crash barriers are in place, but the final layers of asphalt are still needed. Lighting stanchions are low over the road surface as this is right under the flightpath for the runway at Okęcie airport.
Below: the S2 - Warsaw's southern bypass, and part of the Berlin-Moscow motorway, crossing under the S79 and the Warsaw-Radom railway line. Still much to do here, to fill the so-called wanna ('bath') and lay the tarmac. Connecting this bit of road to ul. Puławska, 2km to the east, will take many months.
Below: "Can we get to Puławska from here?" asks the cyclist on the left. "Not on a bike" is my answer. The slip-roads aren't ready, there are too many muddy or water-filled sections. It's hard going for a man in wellies. I purposely came here on foot knowing that it's still impassable to bicycles.
Below: looking east towards Puławska. The first viaduct carries the slip road linking the S79 northbound (currently a slip road from nowhere - see beneath) with the S2 westbound. The second viaducts carry the Warsaw-Radom main railway line and the Okęcie-Siekierki coal line. The third viaduct, just about visible, carries the line connecting Warsaw's Metro to the outside rail network.
Below: the S79 crossing over the S2, looking west. Note how much water is on the ground. We've had a few wet days, but nothing cataclysmic. Pumps are working in the underpass to remove surplus water.
Below: steps for maintenance workers leading from the S2 up to the S79 crossing over it. Work here is nearly ready; just a few more barriers to erect.
Below: looking north along the S79, from the southern end of the contract. The road stops suddenly here. To the left, the slip-road from the S2, for traffic coming in from the west. A road to nowhere. To the right, the slip-road to join the S2 - a road from nowhere.
Below: I turn around 180 degrees from where I took the above photo. In the distance - ul. Baletowa. One day, the S79 will continue from where it left off; it will cross Baletowa and head south through Dawidy, Zamienie, Zgorzała, Lesznowola and eventually connect up with the S7, helping to relieve congestion around Janki. But I guess this will all happen sometime after the EU's 2014-2020 budget money has to be spent by - 2022? Until then, the above stump of expressway will stand as a monument to Bad Planning.
A similar situation exists east of Puławska. Warsaw's southern bypass will, for the time being, end there. No tunnel under Ursynów, no new bridge to carry the S2 across the Vistula, no connection to the A2 Minsk Mazowiecki bypass, no A2 onwards to the Belarusian frontier. Not until 2022.
Poland deserves better infrastructure. The blame can be laid at the feet of successive governments since 1990 who failed to understand the influence that good infrastructure has on a nation's economy.
Above: a rare moonlit shot from Google Earth - the latest image available, dated 20 November 2012, clearly showing Węzeł Lotnisko and the abrupt end of the S79 in a muddy field.
This time last year:
Looking at progress along the S79 (how little has been achieved!)
This time two years ago:
Snow on 3 May
This time three years ago:
This time four years ago:
A delightful weekend in the country
This time five years ago:
The dismantling of the Rampa
This time six years ago: