The works on Trzech Krzyży Square, which lasted over a year, have come to an end. Drivers gained a new surface, pedestrian sidewalks and crossings with signals, and cyclists, previously deprived of any amenities, received bicycle lanes. There is more greenery. There is improvement, but there are a few glitches.
The renovation began in September last year. The work schedule changed several times. Among other things, thanks to those discovered under the asphalt remains of old Warsaw: tram tracks and cobblestones. Ultimately, the reconstruction was supposed to be completed in the summer, but this deadline could not be met, according to the Municipal Roads Authority – due to the contractor’s fault.
Changes at Trzech Krzyży Square
What has changed over the year at Trzech Krzyży Square? The road surface and sidewalks were replaced. Facilities for public transport passengers have been introduced. Instead of several stops scattered on the eastern side of the square, one stop was created, separated from the road as a refuge. Transfers at this important transport hub have become more convenient.
The most visible change is the bicycle lanes marked on both sides of the square. Before the reconstruction, there was the so-called bicycle teleport. The path ended at Aleje Ujazdowskie. Now you can bike to Nowy Świat.
Greenery appeared in the square, which was definitely missing here. 24 trees were planted. The already lush linden and hawthorn trees are complemented by shrubs and perennials. The total green area is 2,700 square meters.
The eastern part of the square was made more attractive by a historical element, which before the renovation was covered with a thick layer of asphalt. This is a fragment of tram rails exposed to commemorate the fact that trams ran regularly on Trzech Krzyży Square until the 1960s.
The modernization of the square cost nearly PLN 17 million.
From the driver’s perspective
Despite the new, table-flat road, drivers will be the least satisfied with the changes. Before the renovation, when driving from Nowy Świat towards Aleje Ujazdowskie and wanting to turn back towards Rondo de Gaulle, you could use the turnaround lane, which was located right behind the church. There were no traffic lights there, so the maneuver itself went smoothly. After the renovation, the former turnstiles were closed and only those located at the edges of the square, closer to Aleje Ujazdowskie and Nowy Świat, remained. There is a signal there now. Therefore, drivers who want to make a U-turn must wait for the lights to change. This causes them to block the driving lane straight towards the Rozdroże square. Congestions occur during rush hours.
After the renovation, the turn from Hoża to Mokotowska Street also turned out to be problematic. Concrete islands have been placed on the bicycle lane that ends here. There was little room left for the driver. They have to negotiate a very sharp angle to turn right. In a larger car, performing this maneuver correctly is practically impossible.
From a pedestrian’s perspective
From a pedestrian’s perspective, moving around Trzech Krzyży Square has become much more pleasant. But not everywhere. A strange and impractical solution was used on its eastern side, near the Institute of the Deaf. To get to the bus stop and, in accordance with the regulations, cross the road leading towards Wiejska Street, you must cross the bicycle path twice. The passage is located next to the sidewalk, which ends blindly with a green belt on both sides. The zebra is moved away from the axis of the actual pavement. As a result, many people walking from buses towards Aleje Ujazdowskie or to the bus stop shorten their journey and pass the crossings.
Jakub Dybalski from the Municipal Roads Authority emphasizes that pedestrian, bicycle and car traffic is concentrated in this place. – Each solution chosen would have its pros and cons – he points out. – A bicycle crossing is generally located closer to the intersection than a zebra crossing. Both could be moved closer to the main road, at the expense of eliminating the pockets for cars and bending the bicycle path, in addition to taking up the entire space for people waiting before crossing, certainly on the northern side – he explains.
– It was possible to do something contrary to art, i.e. the crossing closer to the intersection, but the crossing is wider than the pocket, so the bicycle path would be escalated again, and everyone who does not go to the bus stop would cross it anyway. It was possible to run a sidewalk on the southern side in front of the zebra, but at the cost of cutting out the green belt – argues Dybalski.
And he announces that there will be changes in this place. – We will probably also mark a zebra on the other side of the crossing. The Road Traffic Management Office is working on such a change in traffic organization. In this way, both the direction towards the Institute of the Deaf and the Mute and the one towards the stop would have a passage – announces the spokesman for the road workers.
From a cyclist’s perspective
After the renovation of the square and changes to a short section of Nowy Świat, the situation of cyclists has undoubtedly improved. So far, their route ended at Aleje Ujazdowskie and they were still forced to drive dangerously next to cars. Now they have a path at their disposal, and from Książęca to the de Gaulle roundabout, a two-way path (along the eastern road) and a bicycle lane (along the western road). However, you should be careful – car and bus drivers driving down from the square to Książęca do not always pay attention to the fact that they are crossing a bicycle lane.
There may be some doubts about the solutions used in the northern part of the square. At the exit into Bracka, the bicycle lane cuts off the corner of the square, entering the sidewalk. There is only a small piece of space left for pedestrians, and collision situations seem inevitable.
– The sidewalk is narrow because there is a bench there that needs to be removed – admits Jakub Dybalski. – The idea of introducing bicycle infrastructure there is primarily a matter of safety. Separating the cycling direction to the right and straight ahead gives cyclists going straight (i.e. crossing Bracka) the opportunity to avoid being hit by a car. Without it, they would have no place to stop – explains the road construction representative.
However, for now, cyclists must, like drivers, turn into Bracka, which is why a section of the path on the sidewalk is blocked. – This will change after the bicycle counter-traffic is designated on Żurawia, which is to be done within a few days, then the barriers will be removed – Dybalski announces.
The bicycle ride through the northern line of the road in the square also caused some surprise. It is true that it is connected to the bicycle lane towards Żurawia, but when driving straight it ends blindly on the sidewalk (and it will not be otherwise, because there is a wall of the tenement house). According to the spokesman, it allows you to end your ride and put the bike away at the stand.
“Not long ago they didn’t bother anyone, now they are disturbing”
What is particularly striking are the white boxes with installations exposed in the southern part of the square, in front of the church of St. Alexander. They have become a meme. Given the current technological possibilities and ongoing miniaturization, is the presence of unsightly boxes necessary?
– It is indisputable that Trzech Krzyży Square has become so beautiful that things that did not bother anyone until recently are now offensive – admits Jakub Dybalski. – This is where the control, measurement and signaling devices are located. Hiding them in the ground is not an option, because in this location, in the ground, there is simply no place for them. Apart from the old pavement, tracks, and the remains of the city from a century or two ago, there are plenty of cables and pipes of all kinds – enumerates the ZDM representative.
He points out that the trees planted next door required bringing in soil that was not available there and very careful selection of the location where they would be placed. – But we will figure out how to make these objects better fit into the new surroundings. We will check what the options are, because there are at least several of them, Dybalski sums up.
Main photo source: tvnwarszawa.pl