The Vistula Spit Crossing is being finalized – in 2026. The first ships will arrive in Elblag

Przekop przez Mierzeję Wiślaną

Deputy Infrastructure Minister Arkadiusz Marchewka confirmed that the government will undertake the final section of the investment, which has already cost nearly PLN 2 billion. According to the minister, the dredging of the Elblag River will be completed by the second quarter of 2026 at the latest. Thus, the Vistula Spit Crossing will finally make economic sense.

Long-awaited breakthrough – new government takes up the challenge

Multi-Year Program Construction of a waterway connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Gulf of Gdansk is an investment approved by the Sejm back in 2016. Construction work was officially completed in September 2022, but in reality, the Vistula Spit Crossing does not fulfill its intended function. In its current state, it can only be used by tourist yachts and small vessels.

The problem is the last section of the Elblag River, measuring just 900 meters, which must be dredged to allow larger ships to pass through. According to the Law and Justice government, the implementation of this final stage was to be handled by the Elblag local government – its own financial commitment was conditioned by the previous government on taking control of the port. However, this pressure did not bring the expected results, and the situation changed after the elections.

Donald Tusk’s new government in January 2024. announced that he would take up the gauntlet and complete the investment work. Thus, the cross-cut of the Vistula Spit will be 5 meters deep along its entire length and 20-60 meters wide measured at the bottom. Vessels up to 100 meters long and with a draft of up to 4.5 meters will be able to call at the port of Elblag, Minister Marchewka confirmed.

We know the schedule of activities

The implementation of the investment on behalf of the government has been handled from the beginning by the Maritime Office in Gdynia. Its director, Anna Stelmaszyk-Świerczyńska, in an interview with Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, announced that a tender for deepening the last section of the Elbląg River will be announced in the fourth quarter of this year. Work is scheduled to begin in late 2024 or early 2025.

Later this November, meanwhile, an 8.6-kilometer-long waterway is expected to be completed to connect the port of Elblag with the Gulf of Gdansk. This stage consists of two sub-stages – the dredging of the river from the Vistula Lagoon upstream for 6.6 km, and comprehensive work on the section from the mouth of the Elbląg sewage treatment plant to the point of the river’s fork and the Jagielloński Canal. The latter envisages, among other things. bottom survey, removal of ferromagnetic obstacles, and installation of navigational markings. The PLN 114 million investment is being carried out by a consortium of FABE and Przedsiębiorstwo Robót Czerpalnych i Podwody Sp. z o.o.

Crossing the Vistula Spit – a string of controversies

Recall that the Multi-Year Program for the Construction of a Waterway Connecting the Vistula Lagoon to the Gulf of Gdansk has been severely criticized by the Supreme Chamber of Control. The results of the audit, published in November 2023, showed serious violations during project preparation and implementation. The NIK’s charges against the director of the Maritime Authority and the then Minister of Infrastructure included. theses of unreliable material and financial estimates, lack of thrift, and even unlawful disposal of public funds. The cost of irregularities was set at $381,000. PLN.

The Vistula Spit Crossing has also lived to see international controversy. According to information published on the government’s Special Services portal, the construction of a shipping channel to Elblag has become a target of Russian propaganda. Experts from the East not only questioned the legitimacy of the entire investment, but also warned of an environmental disaster and even went so far as to accuse the Polish side of hidden military goals. Spokesman for the Minister of the Coordinator of Special Services, Stanislaw Zharyn, called the Russian effort an attempt to block an important modernization project.

Crossing the Vistula Spit – economic benefits and environmental costs

The construction of a new road between the Vistula Lagoon and the Gdansk Lagoon is an investment to support the development of the port of Elblag. Following the imposition of sanctions on Russia over its attack on Ukraine, the number of transshipments at the port declined in 2023. To 37 thousand tons. The Vistula Spit Crossing will allow larger international ships to call at the port, which at the same time will free up cargo-handling capacity at the nearby port of Gdansk. Successful completion of the investment on the Spit, according to proponents, will therefore bring tangible economic and tourism benefits to the entire Pomeranian region.

Opponents, on the other hand, including numerous NGOs, have criticized the investment from the outset as an action motivated primarily by immediate political gains, implemented at the expense of the environment and the local community. They point to potential negative ecological impacts, such as degradation of unique ecosystems and threats to biodiversity, emphasizing the need for more sustainable solutions.

The coming years will show how the ecosystem will cope with such a significant intrusion and what specific economic benefits the Vistula Spit Crossing will bring. Nature’s adaptation to the new situation and the realization of potential economic gains will certainly be subject to detailed analysis and evaluation.

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