Accession of Poland to the European Union and the possibility to obtain considerable funds for investment purposes resulted in
a real chance to carry out road projects on a large scale. The first serious plans to develop the road system were presented in 2006.
In October 2007 the plans were revised in connection with the organisation of the UEFA Championships in Poland and Ukraine in
2012. Prior to the Championships more than 1,600 km of motorway and 1,400 km of expressway and at least 54 city ring roads with
a length totalling about 428 km were to be built. The plan was very ambitious and gave rise to huge concerns regarding its feasibility.
Although these concerns proved justified, the scale of road investments commenced, carried out and completed was the largest in
the history of Poland.
Construction of Gen. Zawacka Bridge across the Vistula in Toruń.
The main assumptions were laid out in two studies – the “National Transport Policy for 2006-2025” and the “Transport Development
Strategy until 2020 with a prospect until 2030” issued in 2013. They assume creating a consistent system of motorways and expressways suitable for the needs of internal transport and the requirements of a transit country. “National Programmes for Road Construction” contained specific analyses concerning the development of infrastructure. They described specific projects to be completed at the ‘central’ level, mainly involving the construction of motorways and expressways. On the other hand, local roads were covered by “National Programmes for the Reconstruction of Local Roads”. Both types of documents were created mainly in the context of EU financial perspectives for the respective years. The main criterion fundamental to commencing the investments was that the road included in the transport network being created should be located between large cities and that it should facilitate uninhibited transit. The routes of key significance were:
• A4 motorway – commencing in Jędrzychowice near Zgorzelec, where it is connected to the German motorway from Dresden. It runs through southern Poland (Legnica, Wrocław, Opole, Gliwice, Katowice, Kraków, Tarnów, Dębica, Rzeszów) towards the border
crossing with Ukraine in Korczowa-Krakovets. The A4 is more than 670 km long, and including the Wrocław Motorway ringroad it is
longer than 780 km;
• A2 motorway – running from Świecko (where it connects to the German A12 motorway towards Berlin) via Poznań, Konin and Warsaw. Near Stryków it intersects the A1 motorway. This transport route also incorporates the S2 expressway, also known as the Southern Ring Road of Warsaw;
• A1 motorway – historically also called the Amber Route, connecting the north and south of Poland. Ultimately, it will run from the Tri-City via Toruń, Łódź, Częstochowa, Pyrzowice, and Gliwice to the Polish and Czech border crossing in Gorzyczki;
• S3 expressway – similar to the A1 connecting the north and the south of Poland, but situated definitely more westward. The route
under construction will continue from Świnoujście to Lubawka;
• S7 expressway – that is, the national Route No. Seven connecting the Tri-City to Warsaw and Kraków and being a north-south alternative to the A1 motorway;
• S8 expressway – running from Wrocław to Białystok, one of the most important transport routes connecting Wrocław, Łódź, Warsaw and Białystok. The section between the Warsaw conurbation and Ostrów Mazowiecka is part of a main international transport route – Via Baltica
In addition to road construction another basic investment was the deployment of an electronic toll service system, so-called E-Toll. Its range was to cover not only the newly commissioned routes but also the whole network of national and international roads administered by GDDKiA. The adopted short-range communication technology (RFID) required a whole system of checkpoints, so-called gantries.
In the case of local roads (municipal and district) no central modernisation or construction plan was designed. Those issues were the responsibility of local governments. On the other hand, the focus was to create a system of specific subsidies granted mostly by tender. The “National Programmes for the Reconstruction of Local Roads” adopted every 4 years, set out the financing principles of the amount granted.