Construction of the Peljesac Bridge is proceeding faster than planned, and the bridge should be completed in three years' time, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told reporters on Thursday.
Plenkovic had visited the bridge’s construction site in southern Croatia on Thursday, where the Chinese consortium CRBC is working on building what is Croatia’s largest infrastructure project in years.
“The final deadline for the completion of all access roads and the Peljesac Bridge itself is January 31, 2022,” he told reporters, adding that CRBC is currently installing supporting pylons intended to hold the bridge.
Plenkovic said that everything seemed to indicate that the project would be completed in time. “And that way, we will finally achieve the strategic goal of connecting Croatia’s south with all of Croatia,” Plenkovic said.
The bridge is intended to connect the Croatian mainland and the Peljesac peninsula, in order to bypass the 15-kilometre-long coastal strip around the town of Neum which belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bridge aims to improve road traffic links connecting the Dubrovnik area with the rest of the country by circumventing customs and border controls around Neum.
In April last year, state-owned road management company HC and CRBC signed a contract for the construction of the bridge after CRBC’s bid, worth 2.08 billion kuna (€281 million) excluding VAT, had won HC’s tender. The entire project complete with access roads is worth some €420 million without VAT, with the EU funding covering 85 percent of the cost, to the tune of €357 million.
“The fact that the EU is co-financing the bridge with €357 million serves to show Croatia how important the EU’s cohesion policy is, and how important European budget funding is for this key infrastructure project… the bridge will be a permanent symbol of the first seven years of our European Union membership,” Plenkovic said.
Transport Minister, Oleg Butkovic, who was with Plenkovic during his visit to the site, said that the 15th pylon was being installed on Thursday. The concrete pylons used for the bridge are shipped from China.
Butkovic said that preparations for the second, third, and fourth stages of construction were under way, and that HC would soon select the contractor for the second stage, which involves building some 12 kilometres of access roads leading to the bridge.
“Bids for the third and fourth stages will be submitted by February 14,” he said.