Discover the recent milestone achieved in Poland’s infrastructure development as the S61 expressway, a crucial segment of the Via Baltica route, becomes operational. Learn about the strategic significance of this newly completed stretch and its impact on regional connectivity and European transit routes.
Starting from August 12, 2023, drivers can now use the S61 expressway from Kolno all the way to the Lithuanian border. The final of the three sections of this route in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, from the Ełk Południe interchange to the town of Wysokie (Kalinowo interchange), with a length of approximately 23 km, has been made accessible for traffic. This segment is part of the international Via Baltica route.
“We are keeping our promise to the Polish people and consistently investing in road construction throughout Poland. Today, we are opening another section of the international communication route, Via Baltica, connecting our country with the Baltic states, on the Ełk – Wysokie route. This means that drivers can now use the S61 expressway, spanning over 150 km from Kolno near Łomża to the Lithuanian border, as well as from Śniadowo to the Łomża Zachód interchange,” stated Minister of Infrastructure Andrzej Adamczyk.
The Ełk Południe – Wysokie segment is one of the three parts of the S61 expressway being constructed in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, totaling over 66 km in length. The Wysokie – Raczki section was opened to traffic at the end of 2021, and the construction of the S61 Szczuczyn – Ełk Południe segment was completed in September of last year.
The construction of the S61 Ełk Południe – Wysokie (Kalinowo interchange) was carried out using the Design and Build system. As part of the investment, a dual-carriageway section of the expressway was created along with service roads. Selected local roads were renovated, and environmental protection devices were built. The project included the construction of the Ełk Wschód interchange and 24 engineering structures. The investment covered the construction of a 19.5 km stretch of the S61 and a 3.4 km stretch of the S16 from the Ełk Wschód interchange to the connection with the Ełk bypass. The road surface for the S61 segment was made of cement concrete, while the S16 used asphalt concrete, both designed to withstand heavy traffic loads of up to 11.5 tons per axle.
The nearly 23-kilometer Ełk Południe – Wysokie section, valued at 685.9 million PLN, was executed by a consortium of companies led by Trakcja SA Warszawa, along with Mostostal Warszawa and Przedsiębiorstwo Eksploatacji Ulic i Mostów Białystok. This task is part of the National Roads Construction Program for the years 2014 – 2023 (with a perspective up to 2025).
S61 – Via Baltica
The S61 expressway is projected to reach a length of approximately 220 km and will traverse three voivodeships: Mazovia (19.5 km), Podlaskie (about 134.3 km), and Warmian-Masurian (66.4 km).
In the Podlaskie Voivodeship, drivers already have access to over 121 km of the S61 expressway. In December 2022, the border section Suwałki – Budzisko was opened to traffic, and in June of this year, the Łomża Zachód interchange was inaugurated. Alongside it, a 7-kilometer section of the “old” Łomża Południe – Łomża Zachód was made available.
Currently, work is ongoing for the final segment of the S61 in the Podlaskie Voivodeship, from the Łomża Zachód interchange to the Kolno interchange (12.9 km), which will serve as the Łomża bypass. The contractor aims to open it for traffic, with one carriageway accessible, by mid-2024.
In the Mazovia Voivodeship (at the border with Podlaskie Voivodeship), construction of the S61 section from the Ostrów Mazowiecka Północ interchange (intersection with the S8) to Śniadowo, spanning 19.5 km, is still underway. This segment of the S61 is scheduled to be accessible to drivers in October 2023.
The construction of the S61 expressway is a significant investment, not only for Poland’s road network but also on a European scale. Together with the S8 Wrocław – Warsaw – Białystok expressway, particularly the Warszawa – Ostrów Mazowiecka segment, it creates the international transport corridor Via Baltica. Ultimately, this corridor will handle transit traffic between Western Europe and the Baltic countries.
The construction of the S61 Szczuczyn – Budzisko expressway, specifically the Szczuczyn – Raczki segment, is co-financed by the European Union under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The EU’s contribution amounts to 379.6 million euros.