Environmentalists protest against highway construction in Masuria

Non-governmental organizations have long demanded that the investor (GDDKiA) analyze other corridors of the S16 route, which will avoid areas of natural value and attractive to tourists. So far, there have been no calls from the social side.

– The expert “Network Study” proves that the S16 highway through the Biebrza National Park and Masuria is not justified – environmental organizations indicate.

The results of the “Study of the Via Carpatia and S16 network route in northeastern Poland”, commissioned by the Biebrza Foundation, crush the justification for the construction of the S16 highway through the Biebrza National Park and the Land of the Great Masurian lakes. The road should be constructed in a corridor avoiding these areas from the west.

– The addition by GDDKiA to the analyzes of another route (along the national road no. 8), which also crosses the Biebrza National Park – but in a different place – can only be treated as an action that makes the search for a less harmful solution simulates – environmentalists point out.

The social proposal for the route along the corridor Boćka – Zambrów – Łomża – Szczytno – Olsztyn or Radzyń Podlaski – Siedlce – Ostrów Mazowiecka – Łomża – Szczytno – Olsztyn, which passes through areas less sensitive to nature, has so far been ignored .

In 2021, the Biebrza Foundation commissioned an independent study to determine whether alternative corridors to the S16 were possible.

It is the first study of this type in Poland, covering the network of highways in such a large part of the country. It takes into account the interrelationship between individual road routes and the traffic intensity of all national and provincial roads in the area studied and takes full account of the means of public transport.

The study includes road traffic forecasts for 2040 and 2050 for different variants of the road network in northeastern Poland. The variants preferred by GDDKiA and proposed by the social side were analyzed in detail.

– The results of road traffic analyzes clearly show that: the construction of S16 on the sections Mrągowo-Ełk and Ełk-Knyszyn has no traffic justification. This means that the traffic forecasts for 2040 and 2050 do not justify the extension of national highway No. 16 to the express class. Traffic analyzes and forecasts have shown the limited communication importance of these road sections for destination and through traffic. […] The results of the forecasts obtained in the study show that the construction of the S16 road on the Mrągowo – Ełk and Ełk – Knyszyn section is completely unprofitable even in the perspective of 2050. It is worth remembering that it is worth building the road in the express class in the cross section of 2 x 2 when the daily traffic volume exceeds 20 thousand . amounts to vehicles – environmentalists point out.

Comparison of the results of traffic forecasts for the 2040s and 2050s made for the technical, economic and environmental studies for the S16 Mrągowo – Ełk and Ełk – Knyszyn sections and the traffic forecasts made for the “Network Study” showed significant differences of more than 100 %. It is estimated that as a result of the predicted performance methodology based on:

on the traffic growth figures of the GDDKiA and the area only along the corridor of the planned S16 highway in the sections Masuria and Biebrza, the results of the traffic forecasts in STEŚ were overestimated by at least 50%.

On the S16 Mrągowo – Ełk route, the expected traffic volume in 2050, according to the “Network Study”, will be between 12,800 and 13,700 vehicles per day, and in the official STEŚ documentation between 18,970 and 21,880. For the Biebrza portion of S16 , forecasts for 2050 According to the “Network Study”, traffic is forecast between 8,000 and 10,160, and in the official STEŚ documentation, between 13,720 and 19,210 vehicles per day.

It is worth emphasizing that the network survey showed such large differences only for the planned sections of the S16 through the Great Masurian Lakes Land and through Biebrza, and that the construction of the express road in the 2 x 2 section is profitable when the daily traffic volume exceeds 20,000. vehicles.

p.in terms of movement and functionality, social variants can be an alternative to the courses preferred by GDDKiA. They even show a higher traffic load, showing that building a highway there makes more sense from the point of view of transportation needs and the justification of government spending.

ANDthere is an alternative and better corridor for the so-called Via Carpatia, along the national road No. 63 from Ostrów Mazowiecka via Siedlce to Radzyń Podlaski, allowing a more effective connection of the transit route from southern Europe to the Via Baltica currently under construction, becomes possible.

From a network point of view, all variants analyzed in the study are comparable, while variants W3a and W4a increase the efficiency of the existing highways S8 and S61. From an environmental point of view, the analyzed W3a and W4a variants of the network are alternative variants for the route of the S16 and Via Carpatia highways in the GDDKiA preferred corridors. Variants W3a and W4a meet all criteria of possible alternatives for corridors arising from the regulation of the Council of Ministers. In particular, they connect Białystok with Olsztyn through prime roads and ensure the continuity of the Via Carpatia route. In addition, the W4a variant assumes that the Via Carpatia route will run along a different corridor to the state highway No. 19, extracting the traffic potential related to Siedlce, the largest city in the Eastern part of Masovia […]

In terms of traffic measures, such as the largest time savings, the largest traffic flows and the network results of transport and operational work, the variants are comparable. In the end, taking all points of view into account, the variants W3a and W4a are the most favourable, which have an indicative course:

Variant 3a: network in accordance with the applicable regulation and without the S16 highway on the Ełk – Knyszyn section and with new sections of the S66 highways on the Boćki – Zambrów – Łomża and S53 section on the Łomża – Szczytno – Olsztyn section, and without the S16 highway on the route Mrągowo – Mikołajki – Orzysz – Ełk.

Variant 4a: road network in accordance with applicable regulations and without the S16 motorways on the Ełk – Knyszyn and S19 section on the Ploski – Międzyrzec Podlaski – Radzyń Podlaski section and with new sections of the S63 motorways on the Radzyń Podlaski – Siedlce – Ostrów Mazowiecka and S53 section on the Łomża – Szczytno – section Olsztyn, and also without the S16 highway on the section Mrągowo – Mikołajki – Orzysz – Ełk.

The network study is important evidence in the case of environmental decisions for the construction of parts of the S16 highway, as it demonstrates the existence of real alternative solutions that will prevent significant negative impacts on protected areas in Masuria and in the Biebrza Valley.

– Planning the route of high-quality roads without prior analysis of different possible routes on longer stretches means that the implementation of investments important for the whole country will not be effective – notes Małgorzata Stanek of the Foundation for Biebrza – At the same time, it can also lead to such situations that they risk destroying pearls of Polish nature, such as the Land of the Great Masurian Lakes or the Biebrza National Park. In this case, the implementation of S16 and Via Carpatia in the variants proposed by the social side leads these road routes outside the areas of high natural value.

– We can say for sure that it is possible to implement S16 and Via Carpatia with a complete avoidance of the Great Masurian Lakes area and the Biebrza National Park, and even the correct design of these roads will increase their operational and economic viability. And most importantly, alternative routes of roads only minimally interfere with protected areas, but also pass through areas that are much more convenient for road investments (fewer lakes, running water, swamps, wetlands, etc.) – adds Krzysztof Worobiec of Stowarzyszenie to Sadyba .

– It is worth noting that the construction of linear facilities, including of course public roads, in the areas of national parks, nature reserves or Natura 2000 areas is prohibited by the Nature Conservation Act. Deviation from these prohibitions can only be issued by the relevant government authorities if there are no alternative solutions, i.e. when there is no option to route a linear object other than within the protected areas. The network study commissioned by the Biebrza Foundation not only shows that alternative solutions exist, but that these are even better in terms of transport than the variants proposed by GDDKiA, and that their negative impact on the environment will be much smaller. So it seems that the lack of verification of investment plans by GDDKiA at the current stage will lead to difficulties in obtaining the appropriate permits for the implementation of part of the Via Carpatia – adds Tomasz Sowa – lawyer, member of the Council of the Biebrza Foundation.

Via Carpatia as a transit route connecting the eastern EU countries and the S16 connecting Olsztyn to Białystok are too important routes to slow down the regional development of eastern Poland due to social protests, non-compliance with the nature conservation law and discussions about the waste of public resources. At present, GDDKiA has already lost 3 years without considering the public appeals and petitions from non-governmental organizations. The contact for the preparation of analyzes commissioned by GDDKiA for the 60-kilometer route through Biebrza has already increased by almost 2 million PLN.

The Biebrza Foundation, the Greenmind Foundation, the Sadyba Association and the social initiative Save Mazury continue to advocate a multi-criteria analysis of different corridors for the above-mentioned roads, treating the entire road system in the region as a whole rather than dividing it in short sections. A study of the Via Carpatia and S16 network route in northeastern Poland”.

Based on information from the organization Save Masuria

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