Electronic Journal of Polish Agricultural Universities (EJPAU) founded by all Polish Agriculture Universities presents original papers and review articles relevant to all aspects of agricultural sciences. It is target for persons working both in science and industry,regulatory agencies or teaching in agricultural sector. Covered by IFIS Publishing (Food Science and Technology Abstracts), ELSEVIER Science - Food Science and Technology Program, CAS USA (Chemical Abstracts), CABI Publishing UK and ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publisher - full membership). Presented in the Master List of Thomson ISI.
Volume 9
Issue 4
Civil Engineering
Available Online: http://www.ejpau.media.pl/volume9/issue4/art-10.html


Mieczysław Połoński
Department of Geo-engineering, Warsaw Agricultural University, Poland



The cases of engineering work the investment period, date of its finishing (and beginning of the exploitation as well) and costs are subjects of frequent changes – most often out of investor’s accord. The costs are getting higher and the investment-period is being prolonged. The research concerning that topic all around the world show that significant percent of realized investments exceeded planned budget and time-limit as well. The analyses of chosen investments in Poland from the point of view of planned and actually realized costs and time-limits are shown in the paper. The research support the data from worldwide literature and show that the problem of exceeding scheduled costs and time-limits of engineering investments in Poland may refer to significant share of realizing investments.

Key words: investments, schedule, delays, projects’ management, cost realization.


One may notice – looking at the investments’ realization or simple reading the newspapers – that the time-limits and costs of mentioned investments are often being exceeded in the comparison to the planned ones. It provokes the question – are such events rare but heighten by media (and the public often hears about them) or the problem of time-limits and costs exceeding really refer to significant number of investments. The systematic studies of that problem begun only recently. First scientific works focusing that problem were published in the seventies and showed the chosen cases without the possibility of statistical analyses of the phenomena as a whole – because of too low number of investing cases and non-uniform methods of data-gathering. But even such preliminary analyses suggested that the problem of time-limits and costs underestimation does really exist and refers to the higher number of investments. The intensity of investigations arose in nineties. The spectacular examples of huge investments, realizing from country-budget, which plan significantly diverged to the values obtained by real outlays, figured out after the investment-finishing. According to Reilly et.al [18] the Jubilee tube-line in London was finished two years behind time with the costs exceeded for 67 per cent (1,4 billion pounds) according to the planned ones. The budget of English Channel investment was exceeded for 80 per cent, in the case of the bridge over Danish Great Strait analogous value was 54 per cent. Such examples are much more common in the literature, but only the research supervised by Flyvbjerg [2002] was carried out with large, statistically significant pool of 228 objects. The results definitely shown that the problem of underestimation was common and refer to the significant share of planned and realized investments. Because of large amount of data gathered by the authors and very interesting conclusions, the results should be analysed in much detailed way.


Flyvbjerg’s studies refer to the investments realized in last seventy years, but the majority of analysed objects dates back to last forty years. The planned costs (at the moment of investment acceptance) and real ones were taken into account. Only the objects realized from tax-payers money (the ones for public utility) were analysed. The authors focused on three kinds of investments: roads, railways and bridges (or tunnels). Three geographic regions were pointed out: North America, Europe and other countries (including Japan). The statistical analyse allowed for following conclusions:

Although in final conclusions of the report authors make it clear that their research did not refer to all kinds of investments and should have been continued to confirm the conclusions, they are convinced that the problem of planned investments’ underestimation occurs in every corner of the Earth and its importance should be taken as global.


The similar tendencies in the cases of many key investments in Poland may be noticed. The following examples are the investments realizing in the capital city in last years: building two new bridges, communicational route and important cross-road redevelopment. Most important parameters characterizing the realization run of discussed investments are shown in table 1.

Table 1. The specification of analysed investments’ planned and realized costs and time-limits


Planned cost (mln PLN)

Planned period or time-limit

Date of work beginning

Real cost (mln PLN)

Real period or time-limit


Most Świętokrzyski (Swiętkorzyski Bridge)


24 months



24 months

The costs increased to 56 mln PLN because part of the works was not specified in the plan

Most Siekierkowski (Siekierkowski Bridge)


30 months



30 months

Few-times postponed date of executor choosing

Trasa Siekierkowska (Siekierkowska Route)


a. /2002r
b. /2004r
c. /2007r

middle of the nineties



Development of the investment begun in the middle of seventies and partially realized in the eighties

Viadukt on Wołoska, Marynarska and Rzymowskiego Streets cross-road (interchange)





24 months

Executor changed after 12 months since the beginning of works


Most Swiętokrzyski (Swiętokrzyski Bridge) was long-expected and absolutely necessary crossing of Vistula River, introduced into the communicational lane called Trasa Swiętokrzyska (Swiętokrzyska Route). It should have taken the duties of temporary Most Syreny (Mermaid Bridge), build by the army in 1985 for the period of Most Poniatowskiego (Poniatowski Bridge) reconstruction. The preparations for that investment and looking for financial sources lasted from the beginning of the nineties. The final investor was Trasa Swiętokrzyska (Świętkorzyska Route) Company, established in April, 1997 by Centrum (Centre) Commune and join stock company “Elektrim”. The Common apported 45 hectares of Port Praski (Praski Harbour) for developing by “Elektrim”, which should have defrayed of Trasa Swiętkorzyska (Swiętkorzyska Route) building [5, 12]. The cost of bridge construction was evaluated for 20 million USD (about 100 million PLN in the time of entering into a contract) [2]. The time-limit was stated for 24 months [12].

Finally the works begun on 29th September, 1998 and the bridge was given to the public use on 5th October, 2000 – since the planned time-limit was kept. The estimation of investment-costs is a little bit more complicated. Initially it was assumed that “Elektrim” company in return for Port Praski (Praski Harbour) area would defray of all Trasa Swiętokrzyska (Swiętkorzyska Route) and later the bridge only. Finally “Elektrim” spent 60 million PLN for bridge-construction and the rest (approximately 44 million PLN) – Centrum (Centre) Commune. 56 million PLN should be added (from the Community budget) as the costs of accesses to the bridge, demolition of the buildings, dwellers eviction and cutting out the trees [3]. The total investment-cost (irrespective of financial sources) should be estimated for 160 million PLN – for 60 per cent higher than the planned one.

Fig. 1. Swiętkorzyski Bridge; fot. A. Połońska

Fig. 2. The pylon of Swiętkorzyski Bridge, fot. A. Połońska

Fig. 3. The section of Swiętkorzyski Bridge, fot. A. Połońska


The initial works on Trasa Siekierkowska (Siekierkowska Route) and Most Siekierkowski (Siekierkowski Bridge) lasted since the middle of the nineties [14]. In 1997 the bridge virtual visualisation was presented and in 1998 the muck-up was uncovered with high celebrity. In 1998 (on 25th September) the tenders were invited for bridge construction and on 26th January 1999, after two-times postponing of the date, the bids were published. In March 1999 the adjudication was cancelled for formal reasons and in April the arbitrage by Public Orders Office took place because of the protest of one of the tenderers (the company proposed the lowest cost). The protest was declined and the conditions of the new adjudication were prepared. It took place on 11th October 1999 with the decreasing in the cost criterion value from 75 per cent of the possible points to 50 per cent [16]. The decision was made based on the gained experience that the tenderer announcing the lowest cost not always guarantees the proper quality and keeping the time-limits of scheduled works (as in the case of the adjudication for Most Swiętkorzyski (Swiętkorzyski Bridge) engineering documentation, when it should have been supplemented by expertises and corrections at the cost put to the investor [14]). The adjudication was decided on the turn of 1999. The contract stated the cost of bridge construction for 199 million PLN (the lowest offer was 179 million) and the realization period was planned for 30 months [16]. Such short one – instead of planned 36 months – was proposed by the winner of the adjudication, “Mostostal” company. The time-limit was one of the basic arguments for bidding evaluation. The works were began on 1st March 2000 and finished – according to the time-scale – on 21st September 2002. The cost was kept on the planned level [8].

Fig. 4. Siekierkowski Bridge; fot. A. Połońska

Fig. 5. Siekierkowski Bridge; fot. A. Połońska


In the case of all Siekierkowska Route (Trasa Siekierkowska), which should connect Ursynów with Wawer, the situation was quite different. In the beginning of 1998, 2002 was planned as the final year of the investment realization [13] and the total costs should have reached 850 million Polish zloty (PLN) [7]. In 2001, 2004 was given as the soonest possible year of finishing the works near the viaducts on Marsa Street and Ostrobramska Street cross-road, closing Siekierkowska Route from the north. In 2000 total investment cost was estimated for 1,1 billion PLN [15]. According to newest estimations the Route should be connected with Płowiecka Street in 2007 [20] and then the construction of multi-level interchange, providing non-collision exits from Siekierkowska Route and Ostrobramska, Płowiecka and Marsa Streets [ZDM]. The route realization cost until the middle of 2003, including the construction of the cross-road with Wał Miedzeszyński (Miedzeszyński Bank), was equal to 720 million PLN [22], and the cost of investment finishing was estimated for approximately 600 million [23], what may be summed as more than 1,3 billion PLN – more than 50 per cent higher in the comparison with the planned value. The time-limit, which was initially estimated for 2002 and more soberly for 2004, transferred beyond 2007.

Fig. 6. The multi-level interchange on Siekierkowska Route, fot. A. Połońska

Fig. 7. The section of Siekierkowska Route; fot. A. Połońska


The last example refers to the reconstruction of Wołoska, Marynarska and Rzymowskiego Streets intersection. According to the contract placed by ZDM as the investor and MPRD as the contractor, the works should have begun in late August 2004 and finished after 12 months in August 2005. The cost was estimated for 28 million PLN [4,17]. After a year the development level was evaluated for 60 per cent and borne cost for more than 16 million [26]. The contractor accuses the investor of false preparing the investment for realization and serious mistakes in project documentation, affecting suspending the works. On the other hand the investor accuses MPRD of incompetent execution, lack of proper financial background (as the result – among others reasons þ unconscientiousness in fulfilling former contracts) and lack of experience in constructing of such investments. The contention for possible compensation for ZDM will probably be decided at the court of judgment. It has just resulted with the change of contractor. The investment is being finished by Mostostal company on the ground of new contract for 29 million PLN and the time-limit is prolonged till August 2006 [26]. Since the total investment cost has arisen to 45 million (approximately 60 per cent higher than the planned value) and time-limit was strictly doubled. According to the present state of the investment the chances of its punctually finishing (according to new schedule) are big.

Fig. 8. Final reconstruction-works on Wołoska, Marynarska and Rzymowskiego Streets cross-road (interchange); fot. A. Połońska

Fig. 9. Viadukt under construction on Wołoska, Marynarska and Rzymowskiego Streets cross-road (interchange); fot. A. Połońska

In the case of this investment it is worth mentioning that the losses caused by the delay – basically wasted drivers’ and bus-passengers’ time and car-fuel – were estimated for 1,2 million PLN per month and close to 15 million per year.

It should be mentioned that the investment shown before are not extreme examples. The development of “Warszawianka” pool-complex may be recognized as such one. Initially only the open pool (functioning there for many years) enlarging and roofing were planned. In 1995 the decision was changed and all the recreational complex should have been developed for 20 million PLN [1]. In the end of 1997 the investment costs reached 30 million, in April 1998 – 70 million, 100 million after a year and 112 million in May, 1999 [6]. In that case the investment costs was six time higher that planned with significant, non-scheduled before, expanding the works range.


Analysing reasons of such increasing in planned costs, Flyvbjerg and his co-operators point out four groups of factors, which may explain that phenomena: technical, economical, psychological and political ones. Focusing on technical factors, such as: equipment deficiency and failure frequency, poor geological reconnaissance or objective difficulties in creating the accurate and reliable works-schedule; they also point out that within the compass of many years the planning-methods have been significantly improved and one can – trying hard – plan the time-scale with relatively high accuracy. Authors’ studies show that most important reasons of false costs planning are beyond technical domain. They point out the political factors in connection with economical and psychological ones. The most important for them is the fact that during the activities leading to approval of new, expensive investment by competent authorities it is much easier to gain such target presenting lower planned costs. In cases of public utilities, it is especially important when investor does not mean at his control the constant, strictly determined budget it may manage, but all its investments should be accepted by outside decision-makers.

It is hard to disagree with that point of view. When the project of the new investment’s realization is taking shape, the circle of people interested in its including to the planned budget is usually very large. Inventors, architects, politicians who supported the project during their campaigns, future executors, group of experts connected with the planned investment, agencies looking for the opportunities to earn money in real estate trading (nearby the investment area), building materials deliverers, companies interested in future object exploitation or management etc. Previous practices show that securing the acceptance for works beginning is most important. Later – irrespective of increasing costs – money for investment finishing would have to be found and that problem is often left to the authorities of the next tenure. The reasons of increasing costs, shown to the public, are for example: widening the range or change of planned functions of the investment, unexpected difficulties in the realization (for example: harsh geological conditions or extra-outlay for necessary equipment or installations). The reasons and people responsible for the missing of the extra-costs in budget (being the base of decision of investment beginning) are pointed out very rarely.

The delay – irrespective of its reasons – may be classified in a few ways [11, 19, 24]. Basing on the analyses of the investment-realizations in Poland and the examples put in references as well [9, 10, 26] it is worth mentioning that exceeding of time-limit is usually caused by prolonging the preparation-procedures, not the works themselves (executed by one or more companies). Of course, such examples may be found in development practise, but prolonging the preparation-procedures dominates other reasons. It refers to pre-designing phase (preparing brief foredesign, gaining rights to the planning investment grounds, expropriations, design phase – the period, when a lot of permits and administration decisions should be obtained) and the stages connected with adjudication (for investment designing and works executing) preparing, announcing and closing. On the other hand the mistakes made in those phases often effect the construction process itself, its prolonging and costs increasing. The reconstruction of Wołoska, Marynarska and Rzymowskiego Streets cross-road (interchange), discussed before, is the good example.

The basic difference between pre-executing and executing phases is that non-adhering to the contract for construction-works (and designing ones as well) threatens the executor with serious fines, but the prolonging the pre-designing and pre-executing procedures is not linked to any negative financial effects for the involved institutions. The negative effects of exceeding, few-times postponing time-limits of the investments are smarted only by their future user – in the cases of the investment realized from public money – most usually all local communities.


The examples of the investments realizing in Poland from public financial sources and the ones from references clearly show that the problem of planned costs increasing and time-limits exceeding refer to significant share of the investments. The attempt of recognition reasons of costs increasing points out – in most cases – reasons beyond technical domain – that is political, economical and psychological ones, most often out of engineering influence. In the case of exceeding time-limits it is worth pointing out the fact that most often it does not refer to the period of construction works itself, but prolonging stages of pre-executing phase.


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Accepted for print: 13.10.2006

Mieczysław Połoński
Department of Geo-engineering,
Warsaw Agricultural University, Poland
Nowoursynowska St. 159, 02-776 Warsaw, Poland
email: mieczyslaw_polonski@sggw.pl

Responses to this article, comments are invited and should be submitted within three months of the publication of the article. If accepted for publication, they will be published in the chapter headed 'Discussions' and hyperlinked to the article.