How Poland is bucking Europe's building trends

The co-host country of Euro 2012 is continuing with massive infrastructure changes after the tournament's completion, somewhat against European trends
 Wind tunnels in Gdansk

A growing economy

Poland’s economy is expected grow by 2.6 percent this year, and 3.2 percent in 2013, according to the IMF.  The country is bucking the European wide trend of flailing economies and hopeless kick-starter campaigns.

All across Europe, spending on infrastructure is supposed to be under pressure amid fiscal tightening and challenging financing conditions for private construction projects.

That is not the case, however, in  the northern Polish city of Gdansk. In February, Gdansk’ Council’s Infrastructure Investment Management Company handed out a 221.4 million Euro contract for the fourth stage of the Slowackiego IV road and tunnel project, which links the airport to the Gdansk port, to a joint venture comprising of Spanish engineering giant OHL and Polish group PBG.

Road building programme 

To be completed over a 36-month period, the project’s most prominent feature revolves around the creation of twin tunnels under the mouth of the River Vistula in the Baltic Sea. The tunnels, each 1.075 kilometres long, will feature an 11-metre free diameter circular cross-section, two lanes, and shoulders in each.

Significant though that project is from Gdansk’s point of view, it is only a snippet of the road building boom currently underway across Poland.

Furthermore, with the road building program expected to run until 2015, the sector is not expected to slow down any time soon even though the games have now passed. In its recent report on Poland’s infrastructure, Business Monitor International (BMI) says it expects good growth ahead, with the sector expected to draw around $US60 billion in investment between 2007 and 2015.

Thanks largely to the road building program, along with significant work on railways, tramlines, stations and airport terminals – not to mention the building of four stadiums – the civil construction sector in Poland has been the standout performer among very weak building conditions elsewhere in Europe. In the five years spanning 2006 to 2010, BMI says, civil construction activity averaged more than nine per cent annualized growth. Last year, even as work cratered elsewhere on the continent, the value of work done in the sector rose by a further 11.8 per cent.

Other European nations would do well to learn about the enormous benefits of wide scale infrastructure projects; the job creation from private construction firms is just one of those areas of potential improvement, alongside widescale public sector job growth, improved travel time and transport capabilities and foreign growth investment. 

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