First publishedon www.WorldHighways.com
Croatia’s roads agency Hrvatske Ceste will soon start evaluating tenders for the controversial Peljeski Bridge project, according to national media.
Bids for construction of the four-lane 2.4km long bridge have been submitted by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, Austria's Strabag as well as consortia headed by Italy’s Astaldi and the Turkish company Ictas.
The bridge will connect Croatian territory by traversing the Adriatic Sea’s Mali Ston Bay. Vehicles must currently head from Croatia into Bosnia to re-enter a peninsula that is Croatian territory.
While the bridge will be good for the economy of the Croatian area, Bosnia and Herzegovina has in the past requested that Croatia pause procurement for the project pending discussions between the two countries over the design.
Bosnia’s concern is that the largest ocean-going ships should have access up Ston Bay to Bosnia’s only sea port, Neum, should the Bosnian government decide to upgrade the terminals there.
Discussions have resulted in Croatia accepting design changes – and added costs - suggested by Bosnia, including an increase of bridge's height from 35m to 55m and spacing bridge supports at least 200m apart.
In June, the European Commission approved €357 million of the European Union’s Cohesion Policy funds to build the bridge – around 85% of the project’s cost. The European Union is also funding supporting infrastructure, such as the construction of access roads, including tunnels, bridges and viaducts, the building of an 8km-long bypass near the town of Ston and upgrading works on the existing road D414. Project completion is set for 20122.
Croatia's prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, has consistently said that the project will not jeopardise the interests of Bosnia.