The footbridge in Opatówek built in 1824 was a result of developing metallurgical technologies. The single-span structure with 4 cast iron arches probably incorporated a wooden deck although nowadays these are concrete slabs with stone abutments. The span measures 10.30 m, and the whole bridge is 13.80 m long and 3.50 m wide.
Three years later the bridge spanning the Mała Panew river in Ozimek was built and it has been Europe’s oldest suspension bridge made of iron. The main designer and building contractor was Carl Schottelius. The pylons of this suspension bridge are spaced at 31.40 m, and the span between the bearings on abutments is 27.73 m. Openwork pylons make ornamental portals; four bearing chains made of cells connected by means of pins and anchored in the foundations are attached to each of them. The main chains are connected, by means of special shapes, to wrought iron stays supporting the iron, rolled beams of the span. The 6.28 m wide carriageway was made of three layers of oaken planks.
2195 km of macadam roads and 20 routes with permanent bridges spanning rivers were built by 1842. In the first place, it was the Brest route (almost 190 km long) and the routes: from Kalisz to Poznań, to Kaunas, to Kraków, the factory route (through Łódź to Kalisz) and the route to Toruń. Corvée was the most popular form of services used during in construction works.
The then innovative railway and road bridges in Tczew and Malbork were built (1850-1857) at that time. The bridge in Tczew was designed as a tubular truss bridge. It consisted of three sections made of double-span continuous beams with parallel lanes and a dense truss. The spans in the pier axis were 6 x 130.88 m, and the total length of the bridge – 785.28 m.
Girders were 11.80 m tall, and the clearance inside the truss span was 6.50 m. Bridge piers ornamented with towers were built from stone, similar to the foundations. The design of the bridge across the Nogat river in nearby Malbork was identical. It consisted of a single segment with two spans.
The first permanent bridge on the Vistula in Warsaw was built by Stanisław Kierbedź in 1859-1864. It was a 475 m long steel riveted truss structure with 79 m long spans. The whole bridge consisted of three segments – each of them being a continuous double-span beam. The spacing between 9.10 m tall trusses was 10.50 m. The bridge carried tramway tracks and a carriageway. Pedestrian decking was mounted outside the trusses. During World War I two spans were blown up but after the war the bridge was reconstructed. After it was destroyed during World War II, a decision was made to reconstruct it but finally its piers were used as supports of the present-day Śląsko-Dąbrowski Bridge.
At that time also the first reinforced concrete structures appeared – an arched (vaulted) footbridge in the courtyard of the Lviv Polytechnic National University (1894) and a five-span arch bridge across the Wisłoka river.
Bridges with arch spans became very popular in the course of development of the railway system and later they were built where larger spans were required. Zwierzyniecki Bridge in Wrocław was erected in 1895-1897. It is a single-span steel structure with interesting architectural features. It has a 60.63 m long span and 12.54 m clearance between truss arches. The arches are connected above the carriageway by means of truss bracing. The carriageway on the bridge is 10 m wide and the sidewalks outside the arches are 2 x 4.63 m wide.
Until the mid 19th century, the predominant road construction technology was that developed by Peter Trésaguet, a French engineer. The bottom layer of flat stones was arranged vertically and covered with a layer of gravel. Then, the roads were compacted by special rollers. Thus, a homogenous surface not thicker than 30 cm was formed. The cross-section of those roads was correct. They had ditches on both sides and their width ranged from 3.6 to 5.4 metres.
Later, roads were built using McAdam’s system. In that technology, instead of the bottom layer of stones, a coarse-grained gravel subcrust was used and was then topped by a fine-grained layer. Both layers were compacted separately by special rollers. Though that technology consumed much more material (gravel), it was less time consuming – mainly thanks to the mechanization of the work (so-called macadam machines).
The progressing civilization introduced a new means of transport – the automobile, while roads built according to Trésaguet’s and McAdam’s system were designed for horse-drawn traffic. The surface was additionally compacted and evenly worn off by slow-moving horse-drawn vehicles. On the other hand, rubber-tired and faster moving cars had a destructive effect on the road surface. Negative pressure behind the fast rotating car wheels ‘sucked out’ poor quality binder and larger particles of road metal became loose. Huge clouds of dust stirred up by passing vehicles caused an additional nuisance.
Poor relief of the roads – sharp arches, bulges on bridges, lack of profiled bends and insufficient width of the carriageway – made the cars move too slowly. The development of automobile transport required that the whole system of roads be altered and it was the task for an independent Poland in 1918. In addition, Polish roads were completely devastated as a result of warfare.