7 Dec 2011

NIB-financed 152-km motorway in Poland now in operation

The most modern motorway in Poland, the A1, now reaches from Gdansk to Torun. The inauguration of the final stretch this autumn represents a landmark for the country's road construction industry. From 2005 to 2011, NIB cofinanced the project with two loans totalling EUR 290 million.

 

The newly built A1 stretch is a double-carriage toll motorway that allows drivers to travel the 152 kilometres between Gdansk and Torun in one hour and five minutes. Besides its very obvious practical advantage for local drivers and the Polish economy, the A1 provides a link from the Baltic Sea harbours of Gdansk and Gdynia southward throughout Central Europe to the Balkan and Mediterranean regions.

This important gateway from the Baltic Sea region is one of the EU's priority transport corridors, which made the A1 project eligible for financing from international financial institutions such as NIB and the European Investment Bank, as well as from the Swedish Export-Credit Corporation.

"NIB has allocated two loans totalling EUR 290 million for the project because this transport corridor is of high importance for the Bank's member countries," says Yngve Söderlund, Senior Manager at NIB's Lending Department.

The construction of the road was implemented in two phases. The first 90-kilometre stretch from Gdansk to Nowe Marzy was constructed in 2005-2008. Phase 2, further southward to Torun, was opened to traffic in mid-October 2011.

The road was built by the Gdansk Transport Company (GTC), a consortium established by Skanska Infrastructure Development (Sweden), John Laing (UK), Intertoll ID (South Africa) and NDI Autostrada (Poland). The project is a public-private partnership in which GTC is the recipient of loans for the project and the concessionaire of the Polish government.

"The A1 is a so-called design-build-finance-operate project. We have designed the project, raised the financing, built the road and are, as a concessioner, now operating it until 2039," explains Torbjörn Nohrstedt, CEO of GTC.

Mr Söderlund adds:

"From financing point, it has been a challenging project. The PPP structure has been advanced and the financial close of the second phase was done in the midst of the extreme financial crisis in 2008."

According to Mr Nohrstedt, traffic on the new road is steadily increasing. The A1 is a tremendous alternative to the old road network, both in terms of the driving experience and its safety. On an average day, around 25,000 vehicles now use the motorway, which is about 70% of what GTC reports as the peak intensity last summer (still on the first 90 kilometres). The share of lorries is also on a steady increase from 7% of the total traffic before opening the new motorway. Mr Nohrstedt expects the extension of the motorway to Torun will increase the number of long-distance haulers using the road.

Even with the A1 built and equipped in compliance with the EU's highest standards for this type of projects, road safety remains GTC's main concern. Last year, GTC initiated a social campaign for driving culturally against speeding. Many drive faster than the permitted 140 kilometres per hour on the motorway and don't take breaks when tired. GTC has cooperated with the media, local communities and the police to help change attitudes to aggressive driving and driver fatigue.

"This effort is paying off. We hope we've managed to break the trend, as we have seen much fewer accidents since the campaign started. It has struck a chord in the whole of the country, because this is a wide-spread problem," says Mr Nohrstedt.

GTC has also accommodated the requirements related to the safety of the environment and animals in the adjacent areas.

"We talked to the authorities, the financiers and some eighty environmental NGOs during the design phase and addressed most fears," says Mr Nohrstedt.

For instance, the builders redesigned one of the largest bridges as it could have posed a danger for migrating birds. A number of corridors for animals have been built so they can safely cross the road.

The traffic on Phase 2 was launched significantly ahead of the schedule. GTC employs about 300 people for toll collection, operation and maintenance of the entire stretch.

Currently, the Polish government is arranging a new PPP project for building an A1 stretch between the central and southwestern regions of the country. After the completion of this stretch, it will be possible to travel on motorways all the way from Gdansk to Southern Europe.

 

 

Related resources

Article

A1 motorway. Photo: GTC

1.12.2008

Amber One

Press Release

12.12.2008

Skanska-co-owned GTC gets new loan for A1 motorway