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An investment the president calls his life’s work. The tunnel for which Świnoujście has been waiting for decades has been opened

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The tunnel in Świnoujście is open. Many residents of Świnoujście have been waiting for this since birth. Now, not only will the crossing time to the city center from its right bank be drastically shortened, but it will also ensure savings in the city and state budgets and attract new investors. The mayor of the city, Janusz Żmurkiewicz, says that this is “his life’s work” and assures that he will not run in the next election.

Half an hour in the afternoon on Friday, the official opening ceremony of the tunnel in Świnoujście began. The ceremony was attended by the head of Law and Justice Jaroslaw KaczynskiMEP Joachim Brudziński, representatives of the government of the Republic of Poland, parliamentarians and MEPs, local government officials, representatives of the European Commission and representatives of the contractor and invited guests.

After the official part and numerous speeches, the tunnel will be open to visitors by bus. A run through the tunnel and a ride for cyclists have also been planned. In the evening you can drive through the tunnel normally.

It is the longest underwater tunnel in Polandtvn24

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A historic day for Świnoujście

– Today, June 30, 2023, is a historic day, I think in the memory of all of us, when our islands of Uznam and Wolin permanently obtained a permanent connection – said Mayor Żmurkiewicz during his speech. – We joined Świnoujście to Poland – he added.

– My late brother once said that Western Pomerania is the Polish raison d’état. It is the unity of our State, its strength (…), its readiness to manage this great and important, one can say decisive for our future process of catching up with Poles, our Nation, with the standard of living, economic level and cultural level of all those who had more in the West Europe of historical happiness than we are. This process is ongoing, said Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński during his speech.

– And what is happening here today, the opening of this tunnel, and earlier its construction, is an act that relates to Świnoujście, to the comfort of living in this city, to this connection with the entire Western Pomerania and all of Poland, but it also applies to to the biggest issues – said Kaczyński.

He also thanked President Żmurkiewicz for his commitment to the project, despite their ideological differences. He assessed the investment as a great success of the ruling camp. “We just make it. We don’t have to look for money underground and we know how to spend it – he added.

Kaczynski: This applies to the biggest issuesCity Hall in Świnoujście

Zmurkiewcz: I’ve been waiting half a century for this

Only one person can be considered the host of the event – the mayor of Świnoujście, Janusz Żmurkiewicz, the main father of the success, which is the completion of this investment.

Żmurkiewicz has been the mayor of the city for 21 years and from the beginning he has been striving to create an alternative crossing from one side of the city to the other – so far there have been two ferry crossings. One of them – Warszów – served only pedestrians and motorized residents of the city and connected the vicinity of the station PKP in Warsaw and the city center. The second one, although called Centrum, connected the outskirts and the Karsibór district. In her case, the waiting time to get from one shore to the other in the season was even several hours – the journey through the tunnel will take about 2 minutes.

– It changes everything. I’ve been waiting for this for 50 years (ed. note: then he moved to Świnoujście). This is my life’s work – said Żmurkiewicz in an interview for Gazeta Wyborcza. In his opinion, this will not only facilitate the residents and tourists, but also attract investors to the city. He also announced that the tunnel was the end of his many years of presidency and that he would not run for another term.

Mayor Żmurkiewicz during the opening ceremony of the tunnelMarcin Bielecki/PAP

Emotions of the inhabitants

In the eyes of the inhabitants, the investment is indeed a revolution. – I did not believe that the tunnel would be built even when it was announced that the money for the investment was found. I’ve been hearing about it since I was born, and I’m 36. I have a job where I have to commute almost every day. I am very happy that I will not have to wait for the crossing anymore – Mateusz Kapica, a resident of the city, told us. He laughs that maybe now the family will finally decide to visit him for the holidays, when the queues for the ferry were huge.

– I have a tear in my eye, because I’m used to ferries. You could always get out of the car, feel the breeze and watch the waterfront. But you have to admit that it will be much more convenient and much faster now. There is progress – we heard from 37-year-old Michał Stenzel, a former resident of the city, who often visits his grandmother, who still lives in Świnoujście. He also heard about the construction of the tunnel from birth.

Ferry crossing in Warszewo in Świnoujścietvn24

Redevelopment of the city

The president of the Świnoujście Tourist Organization, Piotr Piwowarczyk, told the media that life in the city after the opening of the tunnel will certainly look different. – I think it will be a completely different world, especially for those who were born with ferry crossings and have used them all their lives. The rhythm of the city will probably function completely differently – he said.

He added that according to him and other people from the tourism industry, the opening of the tunnel is “an event worthy of granting city rights”. – This is something that will completely redecorate our city, I am sure in a positive way. I will be in a very uncomfortable situation because I am quartered on the right bank and whenever I was going to a meeting that I was late for, I blamed the ferry. And everyone understood it. I lost the excuse I used for my carelessness – joked Piwowarczyk.

Przeprzewa Centrum is to be open until the end of the next weekend. The Warszów crossing will still operate, but less often – not every 20 minutes as before, but every half an hour. The chance for a free cruise will still be there.

The TBM, named after the Islander, is over 3,000 tons, 105 m long and 13.4 m in diameterPORR

Many fathers of success

It is said that success has many fathers, but in this case it was true. For several weeks, the Civic Platform and Law and Justice have been arguing over who led to the construction of the tunnel. The truth is more complicated.

Of course, the tunnel would not exist if Żmurkiewicz had not been striving for it. In the already mentioned interview in Gazeta Wyborcza, he himself indicates other people involved in lobbying for the project. One of them is associated with Świnoujście and Western Pomerania Joachim Brudziński, currently an MEP PIS. In 2007, it was he who brought Jarosław Kaczyński to Świnoujście on holiday, who then saw huge traffic jams on the ferry crossing.

Read also: The dispute over the tunnel in Świnoujście. What have successive governments done?

– A month later, we signed the tripartite agreement between the Minister of Transport, GDDKiA and the mayor of the city of Świnoujście, specifying the tasks of individual parties as part of the future investment – recalls Żmurkiewicz. In November 2007, the city received two million zlotys from the Ministry of Infrastructure for the tunnel feasibility study and environmental decision.

We had to wait until 2014 for the next steps. At that time, Olgierd Geblewicz, Marshal of the West Pomeranian Region from PO, supported with an 85% EU subsidy the creation of a PLN 5.6 million functional and utility program (PFU), which was necessary to announce a tender for the design and construction of the tunnel. The call for applications took place in 2015 – under the rule of PO-PSL.

Drilling under the Pig

The application was accepted and European Union promised 85 percent investment, and 15 percent had to cover Świnoujście. As Żmurkiewicz points out, “it would not be possible if it were not for the taxes paid by the LNG Terminal – about PLN 40 million per year”. PiS representatives wanted to deprive the city of these profits, but Brudziński, who attended the Sea Fisheries School Complex in Świnoujście, again stood up for the investment.

Construction started in 2018. A TBM machine made in China was used to excavate underground. Tunnel pod Świną is the longest underwater crossing in Poland. Together with the access roads, it is almost 3.2 km long, and the section excavated under water is exactly 1,483.8 m. At its deepest point, it is about 38 meters below the water level.

TVN24 Szczecin/Gazeta Wyborcza/PAP

Main photo source: Marcin Bielecki/PAP

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