Sunday, 4 September 2011

Poland under construction

Or, if it rings a bell, Polska w budowie...

Not a political post this time. Beware through, the tetchy issue will have to return sooner or later, as soon as a politician who has no notion about economics will come up with an extraordinarily preposterous idea... The campaign hots up, but it kicked off before an official beginning, when the ruling party presented its brochure titled the same as my posting.

I do travel around Poland and I see the PO's catchphrase is not just a set of hollow words. Big injection of funds from EU has brought about a big progress in infrastructure development. When I travel in business taking photos raises immediately suspicions concerning the purpose of it (as if I acted with the detriment to my company), so I abide by stringent business trip policy guidelines and simply scrutinise construction with my eyes. But last Wednesday I travelled privately to Jelenia Góra and back, as my father and I were dropping off my mother to a sanatory there.

The coverage must begin with an indispensable landmark of Polish disgraceful roads. This traffic signage means you should expect to have the speed at which you are driving controlled by a funny device. Usually a driver who sees such sign slows down by 50 kmph. Abrupt braking may be potentially more hazardous than speeding, as a driver behind may not use the brake pedal as immediately as necessary.

And here comes the culprit. Inconspicuous, grey machine, quite often with its lens covered. This time I didn't see a single speed camera taking a shot of a speeding road hog. Some time ago the Polish parliament was about to pass a decree according to which speed camera dummies were to be removed. I don't know if it has been passed and if it has taken effect, but some of the cameras I spotted along the way looked fake.

To the right - the first photographed example of construction going on. An over 20-kilometre long section of S8 expressway linking Oleśnica and Syców. To be precise, the road should link Wrocław Psie Pole junction and Syców, the part of this road, namely bypass of Oleśnica has been completed a few years ago.

The day we ventured to Jelenia Góra the newly built motorway bypass of Wrocław was opened. The opening was scheduled for early afternoon hours, so around 10:00 a.m., when we reached Wrocław we drove the usual route of national road number 8 that runs (and takes, errr... used to take the whole traffic) through the city centre. Wrocław, no matter how charming it is, does not deserve to called a driver-friendly city. To the right - that's how a national road looked - wasn't it a shame. I like cobblestone, but it's not an appropriate road for transit traffic.

Trip through Wrocław had one benefit - I accidentally noticed the highest skyscraper in Wrocław, Sky Tower, also under construction. And in the foreground - a blue tram, a hint for discrenible eye the photo comes from Wroclove.

The stopover in Jelenia Góra lasted just half an hour. A shame we planned to go there and back within one day, as I'd love to roam around the town. I could only snap a street running towards the market square from the car window. Sightseeing beckons... And lack of true holidays over last two years makes itself more and more felt...

To the right - Jelenia Góra can't afford to lag behind with other regions where infrastructure is building up and it builds a flyover over national road number 3. I don't know for what reason it is erected, but Poland is experiencing an infrastructure construction boom, so not only private-funded construction booms lead to absurdities.

At 13:12, as we were approaching A4 motorway, the police opened the central section of Wrocław bypass motorway. No need to drive through the city again. On big junction before Bielany Wrocławskie we're turning left and just enjoy the ride... Traffic is rather sparse, I wonder if drivers knew about the opening and how many took a day off (Skyscrapercity forum told me later many did so) to celebrate opening of the bypass?

The most breathtaking part of the motorway (soon converted into expressway, to make it a toll-free road for cars) is the cable-stayed bridge - Most Rędziński, pride and joy of Wrocław's residents. I have to say I've never seen such a beautiful road in Poland, I'm looking forward to seeing something similar in Warsaw, part of it, linking Konotopa on the western fringes of Warsaw and ul. Puławska should be completed next year (construction has got behind schedule and pace of works is stunningly erratic).

An observant reader has surely noticed a missing piece in the photo coverage. These are unmade snaps of modernised Katowicka - national road number 8 between Rawa Mazowiecka and Piotrków Trybunalski. The dual carriageway was built in mid 1970s and was long due for reconstruction after which it will meet criteria of expressway. The reason why there are no photos of it is that I drove down and up this road and my father declined to save the horror of driving there for posterity. But if you really need to see what's going on there, get on to relevant page on Skyscrapercity forum.

920 kilometres covered within one day is not an enviable experience, but also one-day business trips look in the same way. We set off at 04:50 in the morning and pitched up home at 20:25, both my father and I were falling flat on our faces. Driving in such conditions is not a big pleasure, but when the big stride we are witnessing is made, driving around Poland will be faster and safer. The only pity is that EU will not be as open-handed as it was in 2007-2013 agenda and Poland itself will also fall short of money for infrastructural programmes. I only hope the pace of constrcution will only fall back rather than grind to a halt...

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