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Concrete, cobblestone and anguish for cyclists. The renovation of Ogarna in Gdansk is disappointing

28 of November '23

Without trees, but with aesthetically questionable sidewalks and uncomfortable paved roadway, which will be cursed by many pedestrians and cyclists. Such a shape of Ogarna Street was demanded by the Pomeranian conservator of monuments.

Located in the heart of Gdansk, Ogarna Street has been waiting for reconstruction for many years. When money finally found its way into the city coffers, the Pomeranian Voivodeship Historic Preservation Officer stood in the way. At first, plans to create a woonerf, i.e. a more comfortable street for pedestrians and cyclists, with a blurred border between the roadway and the sidewalk, came to nothing. Assurances from officials that the inspiration came from solutions in other cities, mainly in the Netherlands, with a similar structure to Gdansk, did not help.

The woonerf was disapproved of by Agnieszka Kowalska, the conservator at the time. Her successor Igor Strzok, with whom, by the way, the city found it even more difficult to reach an agreement - and this does not apply only to this one investment.

Wyremontowana ulica Ogarna w Gdańsku

The renovated Ogarna Street in Gdansk

Piotr Wittman/Gdań

Historical appearance vs. convenience

Fiercely pursuing the renovation,the city began totrim its expectations over time. Officials wanted to use pavement on which bicycles could be comfortably ridden, but the preservationist insisted on a surface of uneven cobblestones - and this is a nightmare for users. As he reasoned, the reason is the need to preserve the historic appearance of the street. Such a surface will give a hard time to people with strollers, scooters and in heels. And also cyclists - what's more, it is Ogarna where the R10 international bicycle route runs.

Today we'll allow two bike lanes to be sanded, tomorrow more will come, demanding more changes to the space," Igor Strzok commented in an interview with AiB.

Officials bowed to the preservationist in 2020, and the renovation began last August. The first effects can already be seen in the city space - the section from the Cow Gate to the Maltowersis ready.

In addition to the drab cobblestones, the downtown street has not been beautified by new sidewalks either - these were made of aesthetically questionable concrete slab. What's more, there is not even a scrap of greenery to be found on the paved street - which is met with much criticism from residents.

Ogarna z lotu ptaka

Ogarna from a bird's eye view

Piotr Wittman/Gdań

The city is laying down its arms. Unfortunately, the effects can be seen in the space

But in the discussion about Ogarna, it is not only Igor Strzok who gets slapped, but also the city. Why didn't it postpone the investment until the change in the conservator's position?

Piotr Grzelak, deputy mayor of Gdansk, points out that due to the lack of agreement with the conservator, the city abandoned work on Szeroka Street. There, Igor Strzok refused, among other things, to plant rows of trees and widen sidewalks.

On Szeroka Street we could have waited, because the water and sewage system was not in such a dire state as on Ograna, where we already had to undertake work," says Piotr Grzelak, deputy mayor of Gdansk, in an interview with AiB.

And he adds that after many talks with the Pomeranian conservator, officials lowered their expectations.

- In the end, they were really small, we wanted to run a strip of polished pavement so that bicycle traffic could move efficiently, because it's part of the R-10 international bicycle route. We used such a solution on Teatralna Street. I bike every day. Unfortunately, today it's easier to pass along Dluga and Dlugi Targ than Ogarna. And this is what I have a grudge against the preservationist.

"It's impossible", that is, Ogarna without trees

Unfortunately, there are faint hopes that greenery will appear on the street in the future. And this is not just the conservator's fault. The "it can't be done" approach has taken precedence over the need to introduce greenery.

One of the reasons for the difficulty of planting trees in Ogarna Street is the very high density of the network on the street. At the stage of project execution, analyses were made in terms of the possibility of planting trees to the ground, but unfortunately there is no space in Ogarna Street for this. In addition, during the course of implementation, we encountered additional uninventoried underground networks, which further precludes this," informs Joanna Bieganowska of the Gdansk City Hall.

The renovation of Ogarna was supposed to be, after the program of decorating tenement houses "Facades of OdNowa", another step in the direction of beautifying the street, which - despite the fact that it is located in one of the key locations - has remained off the beaten paths of tourists for many years. The snag is that Ogarna rebuilt in such a way - both in terms of functionality and aesthetics - will not encourage strolls.

Nawierzchnia na ulicy Ogarnej

Pavement on Ogarna Street

Natalia Gajdanowicz

Ewa Karendys

The vote has already been cast