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Polish motorway network as of February, 2010. Existing sections are marked in green, those under construction in red, dashed lines mark planned sections
Current plans for a motorway (thick) and express road (thin) network in Poland

The road infrastructure of Poland is underdeveloped by European Union standards. As of December 31, 2009, there are 916 kilometres (570 mi) of motorways[1] (autostrady, singular - autostrada); 606 km (380 mi) of expressways[1] (drogi ekspresowe, singular - droga ekspresowa), and an extensive network of other roads (of which about 1,200 km (750 mi) are dual carriageways[2]) connecting all major cities.

In recent years, the situation has been improving and government spending on road construction recently saw a huge increase, due to the inflow of European Union funds for infrastructure projects.[3] Currently, three major motorways (A1, A2 and A4) spanning the entire country are being built. Many sections are under construction (contracts signed, construction in progress) and almost all remaining parts are contracted to be finished till mid-2012 (before Euro 2012). The only exception is the Warsaw-Belarus connection which is scheduled to be built later. By the end of 2012, 8 of the 10 largest Polish cities (Gdańsk, Poznań, Wrocław, Łódź, Warsaw, Kraków, Katowice, Szczecin) will have a motorway connecting them with the motorway network of Western Europe.

Contents

Road conditions

A1 near Grudziądz, northern (Gdańsk - Grudziądz) section.
A2 near Poznań
A4 motorway in Katowice
S1 expressway in Bielsko-Biała

Polish statutes define these categories of public roads from March 21, 1985[4]:

  • National Roads – Classes A, S, GP and exceptionally G
  • Voivodship (Provincial) Roads – Classes G, Z and exceptionally GP
  • Powiat (County) Roads – Classes G, Z and exceptionally L
  • Gmina (Municipal) Roads – Classes L, D and exceptionally Z

Motorways and express roads are part of national roads network. As of December 2008 Poland had 383,313 km (238,180 mi) of public roads, of which 122,080 km (75,860 mi) were unpaved. These roads follow the categories division:[5]

  • National Roads: 18,520 km (11,510 mi)
  • Voivodship (Provincial) Roads: 28,536 km (17,730 mi), 61.4 km (38 mi) unpaved
  • Powiat (County) Roads: 126,924 km (78,870 mi), 12,539 km (7,790 mi) unpaved
  • Gmina (Municipal) Roads: 209,333 km (130,070 mi), 109,478 km (68,030 mi) unpaved

In December 2009, 300 km (190 mi) of motorways and 338 km (210 mi) of expressways were under construction[1] and contracts for construction of many further motorway sections have been signed.

The quality of the Polish road transport system has been stalling the country's economic development by slowing down the movement of goods and people. In 2007 only 3% of Polish roads met EU standards.[3] Although the total length of roads is relatively high, Poland is missing the minimum required density of motorways and expressways. 4,808 km (2,990 mi) of the routes were classified as part of TINA European transport corridors. According to GDDKiA national roads condition report of 2008, 25% of national roads conformed handling of 11.5 tons per axle loads.[6]

History of Polish expressways and motorways

First ideas of creation of motorways in Poland were conceived in the interbellum period. The main promoter of this concept was Professor Melchior Wladyslaw Nestorowicz of the Warsaw University of Technology, who organized three Road Congresses, during which a group of specialists discussed creation of Polish motorway network. On March 5, 1939, in a professional magazine Drogowiec, Professor Nestorowicz published an article, in which he proposed a very ambitious plan of construction of almost 5000 kilometres of motorways, I and II category. According to Nestorowicz, a nationwide programme of motorways, based on similar programmes in Germany and Italy, should be started in Poland.[7] Professor sketched a map of future motorways of the Second Polish Republic.

First class roads consisted of the following motorways:

A total of 2,400 km (1,500 mi)

Second class roads consisted of the following motorways:

A total of 2,295 km (1,430 mi)

Current motorway and expressway network plans are enclosed with regulation of Council of Ministers of October 2009. Currently planned network consist of 6 motorways (A1, A2, A4, A6, A8, A18) and 19 express roads.[8]

Motorways

Autostrada

Motorways in Poland are identified by the letter A, followed by a number (e.g. A1). Under current plans, by 2015 three motorways will span the country, two along the East-West axis (A2, A4) and one along the North-South axis (A1). In addition, three shorter motorway stretches (A6, A8, A18) are planned. All of them are currently under construction, in various stages of completion.

Sign Route Planned length Build
A1 GdańskToruńŁódźCzęstochowaGliwiceGorzyczki (Polish-Czech border) 564 km Not yet built except for two small sections, one near Łódź and the other extending Tricity Bypass Expressway southward to Grudziądz. Work is currently underway to extend the northern section from Grudziądz southwards to Toruń. This stretch of the A1 is expected to be completed and open for use by the end of 2011. In October 2009 another part of the A1 from Gliwice to Bełk will be completed and ready for use, by the end of 2011 it will have extended to the Czech border at Gorzyczki to connect with the Czech motorway network at Ostrava and will be ready for use. The remaining parts of the A1 will be completed by 2012 except for a section between Częstochowa and Pyrzowice which is scheduled for 2014.
A2 Świecko (Polish-German border) – Poznań -ŁódźWarszawaSiedlceKukuryki (Polish-Belarusian border) 651 km The western part between Świecko and Warsaw are to be finished by 2012. The eastern section should be ready around 2013.
A4 Jędrzychowice (Polish-German border) – WrocławKatowiceKrakówRzeszów - Korczowa (Polish-Ukrainian border) 670 km Complete from the German border to Szarów. The eastern section between Szarów and the Ukrainian border should be finished before 2012.
A6 Kołbaskowo (Polish-German border) – Szczecin 21 km Part of the old autobahn built by Germany in the 1930s (so called Berlinka) and upgraded to modern standards between 2005 and 2007.
A8 Bielany Wrocławskie (A4 junction) – WrocławPsie Pole ab. 21 km Scheduled for 20082011.
A18 Olszyna (Polish-German border) – Krzyżowa (A4 junction near Bolesławiec) 75 km The old single-lane autobahn built by Germany in the 1930s is being gradually reconstructed to modern standards.
  • A3 was to run from Szczecin south to the Czech border, but plans to build it have for now been shelved. A lower standard express road designated S3 will now be built along this route.

Expressways in Poland

Droga ekspresowa (express road)

As of December 31, 2009 there are 628 km (390 mi) of expressways in Poland. There are about 460 km (290 mi) of expressways in various stages of construction.

Sign Route Info Planned Length Current Length Percent Completed
S1 Pyrzowice – Cieszyn-Boguszowice-Chotěbuz (border) Expressway S1 ~130 km 82 km ~63%
S2 Konotopa – Konik Nowy Expressway S2 ~40 km 0 km 0%
S3 Świnoujście – Lubawka-Kralovec (border) Expressway S3 ~470 km ~96 km ~20%
S5 GrudziądzWrocław Expressway S5 ~400 km ~40 km ~10%
S6 GoleniówGdańsk Expressway S6 ~330 km ~42km ~13%
S7 GdańskRabka Expressway S7 ~720 km ~124 km ~17%
S8 Wrocław – Budzisko-Kalwarija (border) Expressway S8 ~680 km ~52 km ~8%
S10 SzczecinPłońsk Expressway S10 ~460 km ~56 km ~12%
S11 KołobrzegPyrzowice Expressway S11 ~600 km ~20 km ~3%
S12 Piotrków Tryb. – Dorohusk-Jagodzin (border) Expressway S12 ~315 km ~17 km ~5%
S14 Zachodnia Obwodnica Łodzi (A2S8) Expressway S14 ~42 km 0 km 0%
S17 Warszawa – Hrebenne-Rawa Ruska (border) Expressway S17 ~310 km ~19km ~6%
S19 Kuźnica Białostocka-Bruzgi (border) – Barwinek-Vysny Komarnik (border) Expressway S19 ~570 km ~6 km ~1%
S22 ElblągGrzechotki (border) Expressway S22 50,2 km[9] 50,2 km 100%
S51 OlsztynOlsztynek Expressway S51 ~25 km 0 km 0%
S69 Bielsko-Biała – Zwardoń/Myto-Skalité (border) Expressway S69 ~48 km ~17 km ~35%
S74 SulejówNisko Expressway S74 ~215 km 0 km 0%
S79 Warszawa-Lotnisko (S2) – Warszawa-Marynarska Expressway S79 ~5 km 0 km 0%
S86 SosnowiecKatowice Expressway S86 6,8 km 6,8 km 100%
Total ~5420 km ~628 km ~12%

Highways

Poland also has some two-lane and a few four-lane highways which connect all areas of the country not serviced as expressways. These are supplemented by a network of generally poorly maintained side roads and local paved routes.

Urban freeways

With the exception of Silesia, Wrocław, Łódź and Warsaw, most of Poland's primary cities do not have a well developed freeway system within. As cities begin, most motorways and expressways end and turn into ordinary urban streets. This is largely due to the density of city construction and importance of existing city transit systems: The destruction of either in order to construct an inner-city freeway network is not viewed as beneficial.

Legal

Allowed speed on roads in Poland *-Buses which fulfill supplementary specifications
1985 Public Roads Law Act (Ustawa o drogach publicznych (Polish), with latter changes)
The Act provides for basic rules applicable to all public roads such as division of the roads into different categories and procedures for assigning the road into particular category. The Act also establishes the office of General Director for National Roads and Motorways ("GDDKiA") as well as determines its powers. The considerable part of the Act is dedicated to the rules of administration of the roads (including the obligations and rights of the administrator).
1997 Public Roads Financing Act (Ustawa o finansowaniu dróg publicznych (Polish), with latter changes)
The Act determines the basic rules in respect to financing of public roads (excluding motorways), among others the Act stipulates that at least 30% of income derived from the fuel excise duty is spent on the construction and maintenance of public roads. This act has been superseded by 2005 Land Transport Infrastructure Financing Act (Ustawa o finansowaniu infrastruktury transportu lądowego (Polish), with latter changes).
1994 Toll Motorways Act (Ustawa o autostradach płatnych (Polish), with latter changes)
The Act provides for a financial and legal framework for the construction of motorways (selecting locations, acquisition of property on which the motorways are to be built, tender procedures, concessions for the construction and operation of motorways).

References

See also

External links

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