Roads and Expressways in Poland

From Academic Kids

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Express road bypass of Białobrzegi

Poland has a poorly developed infrastructure of roads and expressways by Western European standards. There are very few main expressways (autostrady, singular - autostrada), a few two-lane express roads of mixed quality (typically with a median but no highway interchanges), and an extensive network of single-lane highways connecting all major cities.

The quality of Polish transportation infrastructure constitutes an important barrier to the country's development, especially in the context of the European integration. Although, the total length of the roads is relatively high, Poland is missing minimum required standard density of motorways and expressways. The major routes connecting major cities total 18,036 km in length (2001 data). On December 31, 2001, only 398 km of these were expressways (mostly not up to modern standards), while 206,2 km were express roads. Large stretches of the expressways (about 140 km), especially those build by Germany before WWII, were in such bad shape as to require complete reconstruction. 4808 km of the routes were classified as part of TINA European transport corridors, but only 7% of these (346 km) were up to EU standards (i.e. able to handle loads of 11,5 tons per axle). In the years 1990-2001 only 138 km of expressways and 33 km of express roads were build. At the end of 2001 only 38 km of new expressways were under construction. According to the latest data, during 2004 67 km of expressways were opened to traffic, while 284 km were under construction (or reconstruction) at the end of the year. 8,6 km of express roads were also completed during 2004.

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. Currently three major expressways spanning the entire country are being planned or built, to be completely finished some time in the next decade, a level of development achieved in Western Europe decades ago. By 2008 most of the largest cities (Poznan, Wroclaw, Lodz, Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice) will have an expressway connecting them with the expressway network of Western Europe. There are also plans to build a system of express roads which will not be expressways but will have many of their features.



When built, Polish expressways will connect Poland's main industrial cities with one another. There are currently three major expressways in the books, with some sections already built while others are built or planned. An expressway is identified numerically, with the letter A preceding it (e.g. A4).

These expressways are:

A1 Gdańsk - Toruń - Łódź - Częstochowa - Gliwice - Gorzyczki (Polish-Czech border) 564 km Not yet built except for one small section near Łódź and Tricity Circle Highway. The section Pruszcz Gdanski-Nowe Marzy undergo all concession procedure and is scheduled for 2006. However, the final signature is currently already delayed. Planned completion after 2010.
A2 Świecko (Polish-German border) - Poznań - Warszawa - Siedlce - Kukuryki (Polish-Belarusian border) 651 km the western two-thirds between Świecko and Warsaw are to be finished by 2012. The eastern section will be built later.
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Jędrzychowice (Polish-German border) - Wrocław - Katowice - Kraków - Korczowa (Polish-Ukrainian border) 670 km Mostly complete from German border to Kraków, with some gaps in Silesia and near the German border. Full completion of this stretch expected before 2007. The eastern section will be built later.
A6 Kołbaskowo (Polish-German border) - Szczecin 21 km In progress.
A8 Bielany Wrocławskie (A4 junction) - Wrocław-Psie Pole ab. 21 km Scheduled for 2006-2008.
A18 Olszyna (Polish-German border) - Krzyżowa (A4 junction near Bolesławiec) 75 km In progress.
  • 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.


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

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A scene from the E67 highway

City Freeways

With the exception of Warsaw, Szczecin, Krakow, Bydgoszcz, Torun, Elblag and the Tricity area, most of Poland's primary cities do not have a well developed freeway system within. As cities begin, most highways and expressways end and turn into regular surface 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 viewed as unbeneficial.


2000 Road Law Act The Act provides for basis rules in respect 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 of the Main Roads and Motorways ("GDMRM") 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 administrator).

1997 Public Roads Financing Act The Act determines the basic rules in respect to financing of public roads (however without motorways), among others the Act stipulates that at least 30% of incomes derived from the fuel excise are dedicated for construction and maintenance of public roads.

1994 Act on the Payable Motorways The Act provides for a legal framework for the construction of motorways (procedures for location of the motorways, acquisition of property on which the motorways are to be built, tender proceedings, concessions for the construction and operation of motorways). The Act also regulates financial issues related to the construction of motorways. All those matters will be elaborated in details w Polsce sv:Lista över motorvägar i Polen


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