Traditionally, the period between winter break and Easter is when the Warsaw road planners come out of hibernation and while still not entirely compos mentis start to make decisions on which roads to close. They make these decisions by using a complicated matrix with with points being given to possible closures based on the following criteria;
- The element of surprise
- Number of commuters seriously affected
- Amount of time added to average journey time
- Knock-on effect (number of other routes affected)
- Duration of disruption
Each of these points is given a score and the works that score the highest are the ones for which funding is approved.
In other words, take the brain of a fruit fly, chop it into smaller pieces and you’ve got enough little brains to power the entire department of road planning for Warsaw and suburbs.
This year they started early by closing the “flyover” running from Mickiewicza into Andersa. This is one of the few routes over the railway lines from the North into the town centre. These works had been announced before and I was expecting a very nasty influence on my route to and from work. As it turned out there was an impact but not as bad as expected, adding perhaps 5-10 minutes to a 20-30 minute journey.
This week though, things took a turn for the very much worse! Yesterday I encountered perhaps the worst ever traffic on the way in that I’ve ever seen with traffic standing still almost from door to door. I called a mate and asked if I had missed something on the news and was told that someone had died on the metro that morning and so they, and plenty of others, had taken to the car instead (assuming that the metro would be closed for month for police investigations!). On that basis this was a one-off problem, good news. However, when I got to work, where everyone had suffered the same fate, it was a different story about the Śląsko-Dąbrowski bridge being closed. This was far more sinister!
Take a look at the maps below (click for larger size) to see what they have done.
The above is a close-up view showing the two points that are now blocked (black crosses). The red line is the railway tracks that have to be crossed coming from North (top) to centre (bottom right). The brown route to the left might be a consideration were it not for the fact that it is used as a car park most of the time. This route is part of the ‘ring-road’ and connects directly to the most northern bridge it is therefore very busy. To make it more fun they are doing very major roadworks on this road and have reduced the number of lanes. Bottom line is that this is not even worth considering as a route into town from the north. That just leaves the blue routes as the only two ways to cross the railway and get to the centre. The left hand route is rondo Babka followed by Jana Pawla, the right hand one is Wisłostrada.
To get the whole picture though, you need a wider view of the city:
Looking at the top right, near the rather appropriate box named “more”, is the route of an awful lot of cars heading to work. This is an area that was heavily bombarded by residential developers during the recent false-boom with new blocks and housing estates mushrooming up from the fields every month. Many of these commuters will have used the blue route (Radzyminska) into town until they closed the bridge. These people might well now see the red route (Toruńska) as their best option, thus bringing considerably more traffic to the north end of town. On their way along the red route, they will join forces with the already considerable traffic coming in from the other housing boom satellite area (Tarchomin and beyond) represented by the brown arrow. When all these people eventually cross the bridge they will be joined by me and everyone else living beyond us from Młociny, Łomianki and so on – the purple route. The combined forces of the red, brown and purple will then be faced with the problem of restricted access across the railway, as described above!!
Now, what most right-minded people might consider is an adjustment of the traffic signals to improve the flow from north to centre and vice-versa during rush hours. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem as there’s very little traffic coming east-west thanks to the bridge closure. It is interesting, actually, to note that the traffic now is AWFUL from home to ul. Solidarnośći (in line with the closed bridge). After this it reverts back to “normal”.
Needless to say, no changes have been made to the traffic signals, which remain set to handle 50% N-S and 50% E-W even though the traffic is now 90% N-S and 10% E-W. I’m not even going to mention the fact that we had delays some months back to install a new whizzo intelligent traffic system that is supposed to learn and adapt.
The railway flyover is closed to be rebuilt because if they didn’t do that people would eventually die as cars tumbled onto passing trains. This is clear and understandable, it has always looked as if it might collapse at any moment. It will be closed for I think two years, a bit excessive perhaps. The bridge however is closed to “repair the tunnel and fix the tram lines”. This is less clear. The tram lines have already been extensively worked on and so has the tunnel under the old town, both for perhaps years already. The road had already been closed down for months from two lanes to one in each direction to allow works to be done. And now they decide to close the whole damned thing from now until October 17th???? Questions really should be asked.
The result of all this, based on two days commuting, is that what should take 20-30 minutes is now taking 70-80 minutes – AND WE’RE ALL UNHAPPY ABOUT THAT!!!!!