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Marshalkowska is greening up slowly

05 of April '23

One tender settled and another announced - more sections of Marszalkowska Street will undergo a metamorphosis. Although the scope of the changes is not revolutionary, the whole process of greening the main artery of downtown Warsaw is going slowly. Even as part of the investments already being prepared, not all the planned elements will be built. How long can it take to designate a crosswalk?

TheNew City Center is a project, under discussion since 2019, to transform the center of the capital into something that resembles a European metropolis more than a large-scale parking lot (and that's the impression one gets today in places). The plans and scale of the project look ambitious, some of the designs seem really promising, but the implementation of elements is slipping or they have a very conservative form.

The much-criticized Five Corners Square is primarily a victim of the protracted process from the consultation to the end of the project - much has changed in the approach to the design of public spaces during this time, and this resonated in the discussion. Making the Dmowski Roundabout more civilized is just a stopgap before its actual reconstruction. And although pedestrians outnumber cars here, it is they, not cars, who must use the "pedestrian bypass of the traffic circle," although it too is a qualitative leap. Even though the crosswalks are further away from the traffic circle itself, the change in the accessibility of the center space is palpable, and the crosswalks and bicycle crossings (which are part of a very hollow infrastructure for cyclists) are very popular.

Chmielna - wizualizacja

Chmielna after reconstruction - visualization

© RS Landscape Architecture

Elements planned for the next steps include the reconstruction of Chmielna Street, where we have managed to create a really large amount of space for greenery, despite the initial resistance of the preservation services. This part of the New Center has a chance of really not repeating past mistakes and becoming a model solution. Its implementation is planned for the next two years (the tender for the contractor is underway). We will wait a little longer for other streets that were part of the competition study along with Chmielna, such as Zlota, Zgoda, Jasna and Widok.

Also to be rebuilt is Krucza Street, which officials say is to become Warsaw's La Rambla. Today it doesn't have a very important traffic function, yet cars here have up to five lanes each and parking lots on both sides of the road. Why haven't temporary bicycle lanes been designated now? It is not known. What is known, however, is that the project will be built on the basis of a tender. The center of the roadway will be occupied by a several-meter wide pedestrian walkway, shaded by rows of trees. Car traffic will be calmed down, cars will take single-lane roadways on both sides of the walkway. Missing pedestrian crossings, bicycle infrastructure and greenery will be created. Urban activists have raised objections to such a mode of project selection - without extended consultation and public participation.

Marszałkowska, wizualizacja

Visualization of Marszalkowska Street

© ZDM Warsaw

In the last days of March, the Warsaw Municipal Roads Authority settled another tender related to the reconstruction of Marszałkowska Street - this time on the section from Bank Square (or rather, Bank Parking) to Królewska Street. The selected contractor will be tasked with changing the roadway layout, renovating the sidewalk, cleaning up parking, building a bicycle path and planting 63 trees. The cost of the upgrade is more than PLN 8 million. The work should be completed next year.

Marszałkowska przekrój Marszałkowska przekrój dziś

Cross sections of Marszalkowska Street (design and current state)

© ZDM Warsaw

As early as next year, cyclists will be able to ride comfortably from Bankowy Square to Królewska Street, drivers will benefit from tidier parking spaces, and pedestrians will benefit from renovated sidewalks. The culmination of the changes will, of course, be greenery, declares Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski.

Marszałkowska Street has already undergone the first changes - on its western side, along Defilad Square, a bicycle path has been created, the sidewalk has been renovated, and parking spaces have been designated on the wide roadway. More greenery has also appeared. As part of the reconstruction, the Saxon Axis pedestrian crossing that has been planned here for years, linking the Mirowskie Halls area with the Saxon Garden, will not be built. A reserve is to be designated for this investment, planned for the coming years. Marszałkowska Street, although greened, will thus still remain an insurmountable transit barrier.

ulica Marszałkowska

Marszalkowska street

photo: ZDM Warsaw

With the announcement of the results of the tender for the modernization of one section, Warsaw Tramways has prepared a tender for the greening of another. The idea is to redesign Marszalkowska Street between Ogrod Saski and Rotunda. The changes will include tracks and roadways. The project will include the reconstruction of tracks and roadways along a 1 km stretch. Between Królewska and Swietokrzyska there is to be a green sedum track, while from Swietokrzyska the streetcar tracks will be used as an emergency lane for ambulances and other privileged vehicles. The streetcar stops on Swietokrzyska will be widened and extended. A key element of the study is the design of space for planting rows of trees along the streetcar tracks. The contractor with whom the contract will be signed will have 422 days to prepare the documentation. Reconstruction of this street will not be possible until 2024 at the earliest, when the documentation will be ready.


Marszałkowska street, visualization

© Tramwaje Warszawskie

Kacper Kępiński

The vote has already been cast