Poland Opens EU-Funded Highway

Article excerpt

GRODZISK MAZOWIECKI, Poland (AFP) - Cars whiz by on the sleek new A2 four-lane motorway, a major project in Poland co-financed by the European Union which is paving the way for new investment, including what is being billed as Central Europe's largest amusement park.

"Thanks to the new highway, this has become an ideal location,'' said Grzegorz Benedykcinski, the mayor of Grodzisk Mazowiecki a town of 42,000 where bulldozers are clearing the ground for the gigantic new theme park.

"We're just 36 kilometers (22 miles) from the heart of Warsaw, just half-an-hour now on the new motorway, whereas before, without it, you could spend up to two hours in traffic jams,'' he told AFP.

A vestige of communism, Poland's out-dated road network compares poorly to Western Europe and is largely unprepared for the level of traffic generated by a growing capitalist economy. Thanks to European Union funds, about 1,300 kilometers (807 miles) of motorways now criss-cross Poland, but this still falls short compared to the total 269,000 kilometers of paved roads.

Since 2007, Warsaw has received six billion euros ($7.6 billion) in EU funds to bring its road network up to speed.

The A2 motorway linking Warsaw with Berlin, finished just days ahead of the Euro 2012 football championships co-hosted by Poland and non-EU neighbor Ukraine this June, was a key project.

With a market of 38.2 million consumers, Poland is Central Europe largest economy. It was allocated a total of 67.3 billion euros in EU cohesion funds in the 27-member bloc's 2007-13 budget, making it the most significant beneficiary receiving almost a fifth of the available resources for the time frame. …