The national economic progress and the possibility to utilize European funds had a significant effect on the development of Polish bridge engineering. More and more new, modern structures featuring interesting designs and meeting European standards have been built, in particular across the Oder and the Vistula.
In 2000 the construction of Świętokrzyski Bridge was completed. It was the eighth fixed bridge across the Vistula in Warsaw and the first large cable-stayed bridge in Poland. It was also characterized by the then: tallest height (87.5 m above the Vistula’s zero level), longest span (180 m), greatest width (30 m) and it was founded on 44 of the longest piles (31 m). The deck structure is a steel framework with a reinforced concrete slab and main spans (180 and 140 m) stayed with cables to one reinforced concrete A-shaped pylon. The spans are mounted on 48 cables. The largest test load of the pylon foundation, that is, 13.72 MN, was performed at the construction site.
One year later, the construction of the Third Millennium John Paul II Bridge across the Dead Vistula in Gdańsk. This is the first cable-stayed bridge in Poland built using the cantilever method without temporary supports in the midstream. The central span is 230 m long. The steel framework of the deck consists of two double welded plate girders and traverses. Passive anchors of the cables are situated in the pylon while active ones – in the deck. The supports were founded on driven piles with diameters 1.5 and 1.8 m and length up to 30 m.
The Siekierkowski Bridge in Warsaw was commissioned in 2002. At that time it was the largest cable-stayed bridge in Poland fastened to two pylons. Together with access viaducts it is 826 m long, and its central span is 250 m long. The bridge is a composite steel and concrete structure. The main part is a framework made by two plate girders with fixed height webs and traverses. Active anchors of stay cables are placed inside the body of H-shaped pylons with integrated steel boxes in their top parts to transfer the tensile forces from the cables. Passive anchors of cables are at the deck level. 28 cables with lengths ranging from 54 to 131 m reach each of the pylons.
In 2003 the Czerniakowska interchange was built on the Siekierkowska Route. It consists of the main flyover formed by 22 spans arranged in two parallel lanes each 807 m long, and two left-turn flyovers. Using the longitudinal sliding method, over 9 months 1200 m of the prestressed concrete box structure were built, which at that time was a record in the construction of such structures in Poland.
In the same year, the bridge across the Elbląg river in Elbląg and another one across the Zegrze Lake in Zegrze were commissioned. The 437 m long 11-span bridge in Elbląg has a 75 m long midstream span and the adjacent spans are 50 m long each. On the other hand, the four-span bridge in Zegrze, with each of the spans being about 80 m long, employed an original method of sliding the structure with a curved bottom frame by supporting the traverses on a cradle, and the end of the structure being slid on a barge as a floating support.
The Kotlarski Bridge (2001) has a span length of 166 m. The superstructure is made of a three-dimensional steel structure composed of four lens-shaped arch girders and an orthotropic deck. Upper arches are parabolic and the lower ones – circular. The deck was supported by the arches by means of tie bars. The bridge is very wide (36.84 m) as it also incorporates tramway tracks.
In contrast to the Kotlarski Bridge, the bridge in Wolin across the Dziwna river, commissioned in 2003, looks more usual. The main span is built of two parabolic steel arches with bracing inclined towards each other. The span of the arches is 165 m, and 24 m at the rise. Bracing consists of steel framework with a longitudinally prestressed concrete deck. The hangers supporting the bridge are cables forming in-plane intersections. Active anchors are situated inside the arches. The main load-bearing element of the deck is traverses spaced every 6 m. The steel bridge structure is fully welded.
An interesting steel bridge is the cable-stayed bridge in Płock whose construction was completed in 2005. It has the largest span length in Poland (375 m) and is the first bridge employing stay cables at one level. Under the pylons the bridge has one of the largest spherical bearings in Europe with a bearing capacity of 110 MN and a diameter of nearly 2.5 m. The height of individual steel pylons above the deck is nearly 64 m. The main part composed of steel box-shaped elements was assembled using the cantilever method. The length of the 56 stay cables ranges from 50 to 190 m. An innovation was a spiral rib placed on the outer surface of HDPE tubing in order to reduce the vibrations caused by rain and wind.
The John Paul II Bridge across the Vistula in Puławy, erected in 2008, was at that time the largest steel arch bridge in Poland and the fifth structure in Europe with an arch span length of 212 m. The static design of the bridge comprises a fourteen-span beam reinforced by a steel arch in the midstream span. The midstream span was built of two arches inclined towards each other. The deck, used as bracing, was supported by the arch by means of 14 pairs of hangers in the form of four tie bars. Batten plates were used on tie bars longer than 12 m to dampen their vibrations. It was the first fully monitored bridge in Poland. A system of sensors was mounted for assessing the risk related to the bridge in use, monitoring road traffic and road incidents.