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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » January 21, 2009
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On Course for Development
January 21, 2009   
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Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz talks to Beata Gołębiewska.

How would you rate 2008 in terms of investment in Warsaw? What was achieved? What were the highlights?
The investment budget topped zl.2 billion for the first time in history and the investment plan implementation effectiveness rate was 84 percent, the highest percentage ever. Last year was also a record in terms of putting EU funds to work. The city managed to make use of more than zl.300 million from the EU.

Public transport was certainly a hugely successful area. We finished the first metro line and got the Młociny interchange, one of the largest in Europe, up and running. We also finished upgrading Krakowskie Przedmie¶cie. This street is now the hallmark of the town. We're about to make a decision on strategically significant tenders for the Most Północy (North Bridge) and the central part of the second metro line.

To what extent were preparations for the Euro 2012 soccer championships kept on schedule?
We made the administrative decisions connected with building the National Stadium efficiently and without unnecessary delays. This is not really a city project but it does need our input if it's going to proceed on schedule. We're mostly concerned with ensuring that public transport runs efficiently during the championships. That's why we're planning to construct the eastern section of the downtown beltway, upgrade the tram tracks on the right bank of the Vistula and comprehensively replace the entire tram fleet. There's a tender under way to deliver 186 low-floor wheelchair-accessible trams, most of them on Praga, or right bank, routes. The key rail link connecting Warsaw's international Frederic Chopin airport with the city center has to be completed before 2012.

The UEFA [the Union of European Football Associations, which is organizing the Euro 2012 soccer championships] now rates Warsaw's public transport preparations very highly as it does our hotel stock preparations. And soccer supporters will be completely safe during the championships. We'll have special areas for them and there'll be medical support on hand. Much of the city will be restored to its former grandeur between now and 2012. We're giving Francuska Street a makeover as this will be the main pedestrian and gastronomic thoroughfare around the stadium during the championships. Several of the city's squares will be renovated too, as will the jetties along the Vistula.

What projects has Warsaw planned for this year and the years ahead? What are your priorities? What are the problems and challenges you face?
We're planning to allocate more than zl.3 billion to investment projects this year and zl.14 billion in all between 2008 and 2012. This means that project planning and completion is being sped up unbelievably, and this, in turn, requires improvements in the way projects and finances are managed.

Guaranteeing finance is going to be a huge challenge for us. Putting EU funds to work, a smooth issue of Eurobonds, getting credit from the European Investment Bank or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and privatizing municipal enterprises are all indispensable to seeing that strategic projects are adequately financed.

Building the central section of the second metro line, the North Bridge and the downtown beltway are all key planks of our investment plan. But our ambition will not let us narrow our plan to a single dimension. Vast sums are being allocated to such socially important areas as culture and sport.

That's why we've taken it on ourselves to complete such a multifarious array of projects vital to the city. Here we might mention the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Copernicus Science Center, the Museum of History of Polish Jews, and the Legia Stadium. But we're carrying out some more modest cultural and sporting projects as well. We're building several district cultural centers and dozens of public sporting facilities as part of the government's Orlik program and the city's Syrenka program. So, as you can see, we've set a course for sustainable development.
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