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Pedestrians on the promenade, cars in the tunnel. They want to reclaim Independence Avenue in Sopot

24 of April '24

A lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, together with a group of female students, wants Sopot to return to the idea of building a tunnel under Independence Avenue. "Yes, it's a costly investment, but it will benefit everyone," the project's authors argue, and as proof they show how much the place where the city's thoroughfare runs today can gain.

The construction of a tunnel for cars under Niepodległości Avenue would enable a great metamorphosis of this part of the city, which is separated today, says Dr. Pawel Czarzasty, a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, in an interview with A&B.

The artery cuts up the city

In his opinion, the removal of transit traffic is the most pressing issue from the perspective of the city's development today. Dr. Czarzasty, along with Beniamin Straszewski of the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts and students of the academy: Julia Kopacz, Veronika Glanc, Anastasia Rozhenska, Lizaveta Yafishova, Christina Vanhoof and Natalia Stefanska have prepared a concept for the new development of Independence Avenue in Sopot. The vision calls for the construction of a tunnel for cars in the place where the artery runs today, the authors of the project are trying to convince the city authorities to this idea.

Makieta przedstawiająca pierwszy wariant

A mockup showing the first variant

© Pawel Czarzasty

I am a Sopot resident, this idea is the result of many years of thought, long analyses and consultations with specialists, which turned into a project at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, says Pawel Czarzasty. - I proposed to the students to design a new pedestrian and roadway route, which could become Niepodległości Avenue, an artery that is a barrier in the city.

Visions of building a tunnel under Sopot for transit traffic were floated by the city authorities more than a decade ago. There were even consultations, in which 95 percent of those surveyed were in favor of the investment. At the time, the cost of the 3.5 km tunnel was estimated at PLN 2.3 billion. Over time, however, the topic was abandoned.

Projekt zakłada powstanie licznych miejsc rekreacji i odpoczynku

The project calls for the construction of numerous recreation and rest areas

© Christina Vanhoof

We want to show that such an investment is possible," says Pawel Czarzasty. - Many European cities today are starting to move transit traffic out of city centers. In Sopot there is no alternative location for Niepodległości Avenue, it is the only place where such an artery can run. There is nowhere to let traffic go, a tunnel is the only solution. And fortunately, it can be done virtually without any demolition or expropriation.

An underground tunnel for cars in several variants

The project was presented to Magdalena Jachim, the mayor of Sopot, and soon the authors of the concept will also meet with city councilors. There are several variants of the tunnel. The version covering the critical part of the artery, with a length of about 1 km, is, according to the project creators, a cost of 500-600 million zlotys. However, the biggest problem - besides finding financing - would be the need to redirect traffic to the narrow streets of the resort, and as a result - large traffic jams and traffic paralysis.

Mieszkańcy Sopotu zyskaliby atrakcyjną przestrzeń

Sopot residents would gain an attractive space

© Weronika Glanc

That's why an alternative version was also created: a bored tunnel for about 2.5 km. This concept assumes the creation of a two-level tunnel, in which case one line can be drilled, which strongly reduces costs," explains the ASP lecturer.

The concept assumes that the existing road would not completely disappear from the city space - instead, car traffic would be limited to two lanes, providing access to properties or services.

Metamorfoza ulicy z lotu ptaka

An aerial view of the street's metamorphosis

© Vanhoof Christina

Yes, it is an expensive investment, but it will benefit everyone. For motorists, travel time between Gdansk and Gdynia will be shortened, residents of Sopot will gain a wonderful street, the potential of which is not used today. Today it's even hard to imagine how the city could come alive with this one investment. The difference would be colossal ," says Pawel Czarzasty.

In their projects, the students proved that the space reclaimed for pedestrians could be used to create attractive parks, boulevards, food gardens, fountains and small architecture, as well as places of rest.

Makieta tunelu pod al. Niepodległości

A mock-up of the tunnel under Niepodległości Avenue

© Pawel Czarzasty

Ewa Karendys

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