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Kosovo's award-winning green highway construction

First publishedin World Highways
January February 2012
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Kosovan Bridge
Bechtel-Enka has worked closely with the Kosovan Government and local groups to ensure that the project provides maximum benefit to the country

A new highway is proving an economic lifeline for the tiny country of Kosovo – Mike Woof reports

Road projects in Europe rarely meet such widespread public approval and support as the new Route 7 highway being built in the new Balkan state of Kosovo. The first sections of the new road opened to traffic in November 2011, with locals turning out in large numbers to celebrate the event. The official opening was carried out by the country’s prime minister Hashim Thaçi, president Atifete Jahjaga, and members of parliament, along with the Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha and US representatives Eliot Engel and Gary Peters also attending.

That the opening of the road should attract such positive local interest and support is easy to comprehend. The construction of the highway is a source of some pride to the Kosovans, with the country having sourced the funds for the project from its own budget. Having literally fought for independence, many in the country regard the highway as a symbol of Kosovo’s hard won self-determination, as well as providing a cornerstone for future economic growth.

When complete the highway will help boost connectivity in the Balkan Region, and from both political and economic perspectives, the project is highly important.

The highway is being constructed by joint venture partners Bechtel-Enka, a USTurkish partnership that has built a series of other highway projects in countries including Turkey, Croatia and Albania over a 25 year period. This joint venture has successfully constructed over 28,000km of highways and roads, 100 tunnels totalling 350km in length and 25 major bridge projects. The Croatian project was completed in 2004 and has provided a huge boost to the country’s economy, tourism in particular, a fact that has not gone unnoticed in either Kosovo or Albania. The whole region is opening up and the Bechtel-Enka partnership is also building a highway in Romania at present, with the project due to open by the end of 2013.

The new Route 7 highway will improve transport connections with Albania, a country with which Kosovo shares a language as well as having many historical links. The new road is of vital importance to Kosovo, giving this tiny nation a direct route from its capital Pristina to the Albanian capital Tirana and perhaps even more importantly, the large Albanian port of Durrës on the Adriatic.

This highway has faced some massive challenges during its construction but the country has an acute need for better infrastructure. It will make a major reduction in journey times over the narrow and twisting route it replaces, which has presented a significant barrier to economic development in the area. In terms of safety too the new direct route will provide a huge improvement over the existing road, a twisting two lane link that winds its way through a number of high passes. The old road features just one lane in either direction and carries a high percentage of heavy large trucks that move sluggishly, particularly where the route gains in altitude, with long streams of cars trailing in their wake on the gradients. The average speed of buses, cars and trucks on the route can be further reduced by slow moving agricultural vehicles. Journey times are high and the existing road’s safety record is poor, particularly in winter when temperatures drop as low as -27°C and the mountain sections become treacherous. In winter the sharp curves and icy surfaces result in a high rate of accidents, while there are frequent closures due to heavy snowfall.

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Opening of the Kosovo motorway
Opening of the Kosovo motorway by (left-right): Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha, Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga, Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci and US congressman Eliot Engel
According to Kosovo’s transport minister Fehmi Mujota and his political advisor Artan Ndrecaj, the new Route 7 highway from the Albanian border to Pristina will help provide long term growth. Mujota said that Kosovo’s Transport Ministry paid close attention to benefits of the Albanian highway project when that was under construction and also learned several lessons along the way, which were put to good use when the tender process for Route 7 was opened. Plans have also been drawn up by the Kosovans to extend the Route 7 highway from Pristina to the border with Serbia. And with Albania building another highway to Macedonia, as well as highway construction programmes in Romania and Bulgaria providing better links to Turkey, the various Balkan nations will see major transport improvements. “We are a small new country but we see ourselves as the key to the region,” he added. It is worth noting that rather than waiting for EU funding to become available for instance, the Kosovan Government has sourced its own finances for the Route 7 project. “We were expecting international institutions to be more supportive of Kosovo because infrastructure is a condition to bring our country into the market. I expect they will change their attitude when they see the development of our country,” Mujota said.

“Our next plan is for the highway from Pristina to Macedonia and this will increase the economic development not only for Kosovo but for the region,” Mujota said. “We know our limitations with the budget but the government decided infrastructure is the priority if we want to develop this country.”

The Kosovan Government has ambitious plans and aims to have finished building the new Route 6 highway linking with Macedonia as well as rebuilding the existing national roads during the next four years. Mujota said that the tender process for the Macedonia link will open in 2012 while the work will commence in 2013 and the road is expected to be complete by 2014. “We have a plan and the general design is already done,” he said. Work to local roads will be carried out by local authorities but plans are also in hand for these to be carried out.

A challenge has been Kosovo’s geology, in places as difficult as this tiny country’s recent history. Wanting to keep costs down and have the road built within deadlines, the Kosovan Government has been keen to facilitate work on the project and is operating closely with Bechtel-Enka. Project manager Darren Mort explained that the assistance from the Kosovan Government with regard to expropriation has been extremely helpful. Mort added, “Challenges have been the speed of construction and the complexity of the early works. There have been a lot of logistical challenges too as there are works going on in parallel.”

Bechtel-Enka did face competition to win the contract and Andrew Paterson, prime contract manager for Bechtel-Enka said, ”In all 41 firms showed a strong interest in the project, with seven then being shortlisted.”

Bechtel-Enka’s experience of working on the highway from Albanian capital Tirana to the Kosovan border proved highly useful. The joint venture partners built a major section of this highway, coping with difficult mountainous terrain. Paterson said, “We did have that competitive edge. We’d worked in Albania and we rolled the team over. To win the proposal we had to come up with a competitive solution.

The Government wanted to link the main cities, so we went around the mountains to avoid building the tunnels and also to reduce the risk to the client. The proposal did ask for alternative solutions but we were the only tender to offer one.”

Discussions with the Kosovan Government were important for the project and Paterson said, “We wanted to understand how the client relationship worked. How would we make a partnership out of this rather than a client/ contractor basis?”

Various factors have combined to allow Bechtel-Enka to achieve rapid progress, with direct support from the Kosovan Government being a key driver. This aspect of the project has been hugely effective and Paterson said, “The biggest contributing factor to our success has been our partnership with the client.”

It is worth noting that while progress has been rapid, construction quality has been kept at a premium and the contractor fully intends to deliver a safe and long lasting highway to the Kosovan Government. With so many Kosovans engaged in the project and the highway offering such a massive improvement in transport, the locals have also been hugely supportive of the construction programme.

Road safety too is expected to improve. Complete accident details were not available for 2011, but there were 94 fatal accidents and 168 killed on Kosovo’s roads between January and September 2011, an increase of 8% over the previous year. The Transport Ministry’s data also showed that in the January-September 2011 period, 3,405 people needed hospital treatment following a total of 14,041 road accidents. Speeding, alcohol use, defective vehicles, poor driver training and dangerous winter conditions were amongst the major factors causing road accidents. Mujota explained that the new highway will reduce the traffic density on the country’s existing two lane route, with its many curves, which will reduce the accident rate significantly. “We expect a big change in those numbers,” Mujota said. He added that the Transport Ministry will also invest in technologies to address speeding, as well as being tougher on enforcement of road rules.

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The pillars for all 29 bridges along Route 7
The pillars for all 29 bridges along Route 7 are formed in-situ and spaced 40m apart to allow the use of the 40m long precast beam sections

Alternative route

The original route of the highway called for the construction of twin tunnels, some 5.5km long. These were to have carried the highway through a mountainous area to the south of Pristina and were seen as the best option for the linking the city with the Albanian border. However, the tunnel construction work would have been costly and instead, when joint venture partners Bechtel-Enka submitted a tender this also proposed an alternative route for the highway that would reduce the expense.

This redirected the Route 7 highway to the west to link with the M9 dual carriageway, which was being built by a Kosovan contractor. Seeing the huge reduction in construction costs, the Kosovan Government was extremely favourable to the idea and subsequently awarded the construction contract to Bechtel- Enka. The highway bypasses the towns of Prizren and Sureka, although both have direct links to the high speed route.

Work started in May 2010 on sections 1 and 2 of the nine sections that the Bechtel- Enka joint venture won, with these being the first opened to the public. The deadline to open section 3 of the highway was in 2012, however this was opened to traffic in mid-November 2011, nearly 12 months ahead of schedule. Özgar Inal is a member of the board at Enka as well as being deputy project manager and he explained that the route the Kosovan Government was working from initially was based on a feasibility study carried out some years ago. He said, “The original idea was to go through the mountain. Our proposal was to avoid the tunnels and this saved a great deal from the budget but only added 6 minutes more to the journey time for the route. At the end of the day, it gives them what they want, a route from Pristina to Albania.”

Two international design firms are being used on the project, one French (Egis) and one Croatian (IGH). Inal said, “We didn’t lose time and all the design changes had to be approved.

We had a whole department working with the designers.”

The construction process has been extremely rapid, impressively so given the geology of the area. Inal said, “We had a fast track beginning. As soon as the pen signed the deal, we were up and running.”

The highway crosses some very difficult terrain and the 102km route Bechtel-Enka is building features no less than 29 bridges in all, which cross various rivers or valleys, and have been designed and constructed largely along modular lines.

These bridges feature 40m long pre-cast reinforced concrete beams for the most part, which have been manufactured at the precasting facility, although shorter beams can be cast if and when required however. The pillars for the bridges also feature a similar cross-sectional design and have been constructed a standard 40m apart, in-situ using conventional formwork technology. Along the first 38 km of the highway (which is now open), there are no less than 10 bridges, which measure a total of 1.4km in length. Bridge 3 is the biggest of the structures along Route 7, measuring 560m long by 41m high and this is now open to traffic. With regard to productivity, structure manager Ibrahim Keyik said, “We didn’t stop in the winter time and by May 2011 we’d completed 70% of our structural works.”

Taking the green route

Bechtel-Enka’s Kosovo highway project has won the top prize in Bechtel’s own Green Footprint Awards 2011, a scheme highlighting best practice in environmental management and sustainability and open to all of its civil infrastructure projects.

The Bechtel-Enka joint venture project team was praised by judges for the campaign to reduce, reuse and recycle waste, which was unprecedented in the local area. Initiatives carried out by the team included reducing fuel consumption to minimise earthworks excavation and haulage itineraries, developing a waste-oil re-use programme to provide heating fuel for the local business community and developing relationships with companies to help expand tyre recycling, battery exchange and public waste recycling programs in Kosovo. Bechtel set up its Green Footprint Awards in 2007 to raise awareness of climate change, encourage project action and reward effective and innovative ideas in energy, fuel and emissions management. The awards recognise the development and implementation of best practice in environmental management and sustainability in the firm’s civil infrastructure projects around the world. Nearly 30% of waste on the Kosovo highway project is now recycled, waste disposal costs have been reduced significantly and carbon emissions cut by 138tonnes/month.

Following awareness campaigns to reach out and educate the community, local schools have also started initiatives to clean up their environment and recycle. “Our role in many countries is to bring new perspectives and ways of working, acknowledging that we have accountability to the environment and to local people. The team on the Kosovo motorway project took a holistic approach: by making substantial reductions in energy use, recycling materials themselves and demonstrating the benefits of this to the local community, they have helped make this a part of their daily life,” said James Scott, environmental services manager, Bechtel.

“The challenges of changing social norms and the lack of specialised waste collection services meant the team had to think out of the box to deliver workable solutions in as many areas as possible. The changes that we have seen across the year have shown what improvements can be made and how the project, environment and the local community can all benefit,” added Laurentiu Darandau, environmental lead, Kosovo Motorway Project, Bechtel.

Some 250 of the 40m long pre-cast beams had been made by May 2011 for example, with a special hot-curing system allowing construction even in winter conditions. Keyik said that in total the route features 15 overpasses and 10 underpasses. The project also called for 30 relocations of electrical supplies and 66 relocations of links for irrigation, drinking water or sewage. Bechtel-Enka came up with a solution for dealing with the utilities and hired in subcontractors to move them. Keyic said that some of the drinking and irrigation water supplies were particularly challenging as a number are fed by natural springs running through mountainous areas. The environmental issues added to the complexity and Paterson explained, “We had issues with the horizontal and vertical alignments so as to miss unmarked fishponds.”

There were a number of underground cavities detected in the rock and these had to be left as they were. Paterson said, “We identified the opening of a cave below the retaining wall and made sure caves could not affect the stability of the road above. One water course is a source of drinking water that had to be kept clean and it also restricted our blasting in that area.”

The alignment has posed its challenges and Inal said, “The route covers a combination of mountains, clay-like material, farmland and in one place, even ancient seabed. Some of the material is usable and some not.”

In the Prizren area the road runs over a relatively flat section but this lies on top of clay. In the rocky areas the rock is weathered and very fissured and is not competent, which required extensive work to secure it. Extensive geotechnical investigations have been necessary and have required design changes, although Inal said that this yielded some surprises. Certain sections of the route also featured unexploded ordinance left over from the war and some had sunk as deep as 2-3m, so specialists were brought in to make the route safe.

Erdogan Kilic is quality control manager and said, “The good weather helped us, as normally you get a lot of rain late in the year. The only problem we had was some rain in June.”

Kilic explained that this comparatively good weather helped the paving work in particular and allowed more or less continuous operation. Conventional coring, nuclear density checks, surface evenness and surface roughness evaluations were made on a continuous basis so as to ensure that paving quality met requirements “…so as not have a surprise the next day,” Kilic said.

Hill International was hired by the client to ensure that quality standards are maintained throughout the project. Tight controls help ensure that the highway meets world class standards to minimise its environmental impact.

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The new highway offers a massive improvement
The new highway offers a massive improvement over the country's previous road links
So that the highway features gradual gradients that will not adversely affect the speed of heavy vehicles, the route also includes some substantial cuttings. These have been excavated using conventional earthmoving techniques based around the use of ADTs and on/off-road tipper trucks being loaded by excavators. Drilling and blasting has also been carried out using Atlas Copco rigs run by a specialist sub-contractor  to deal with the sections where the route of the road passes through rock. One of the large cut operations has required the removal of 2 million m3 of material and in total the cuttings for the hilly sections 1, 2, 3 and 4a have required the removal of around 14.6 million m3 of rock and dirt. Inal said, “We had to drill and blast and some of our big cuts required soil nailing and anchors to stabilise the slopes.”

Inal estimated that there are around 120km of soil nails and anchors in the cuttings, along with 240,000m2 of slope improvement materials. Another geological challenge has been presented by the soft ground along some sections of the route, which have required major earthworks and extensive remediation work. Inal said, “The challenge is that the bearing capacity is not good. In the previous design there was a huge amount of rock needed but we studied this with the designer and client and we opted to use geosynthetics so we could reduce the amount of rock.”

The answer has been to excavate the affected areas and construct a 1m thick rock foundation on top, using blasted rock from the cuttings and Inal said that some 3 million m3 of this rock has been used for the road bed. Bechtel-Enka has also used six piling rigs for the project, particularly in the areas where the ground is soft.

Efficient haulage

An important feature of the work is that Bechtel-Enka has not used any of the local roads to carry materials to the site and haul excavated rock and dirt away from the cuttings, instead building its own haul roads. Site traffic has run on service roads parallel to the new highway or along the alignment itself, as well as using access routes specially built for the project. This significantly reduced the impact to the already congested local roads, as well as speeding material supply and optimising the muckshifting operations.

Bechtel-Enka has a mixed earthmoving fleet; the ADTs are all Caterpillar trucks while the excavators are mainly Caterpillar, Hitachi and Komatsu machines and the dozers come from Caterpillar and Komatsu. Managing such a large machine fleet was also important and Inal said, “In one month we were able to excavate 2.3 million m3. We had 40 dozers, 75 excavators, 35 ADTs and on-highway tippers.”
Over the border

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing major funding in Albania’s road network. A loan worth €53 million will help pay for the construction of the new Fier and Vlore bypasses. This loan will aid further development of the Albanian road network and boosting economic integration in the country by co-financing the construction of the two bypass roads, located in south-western Albania.

The EBRD loan is structured in two tranches and will be used by the Albanian Road Authority to build a 22km bypass in Fier and a 29km bypass in Vlore. The project is being co-financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Union. The two bypasses form key sections of Albania’s national road network which will connect important roads previously financed by the EBRD and EIB.

The project will reduce congestion in the two cities, boost economic integration in the region, and underpin the development of tourism in southern Albania. “The EBRD is one of the main investors in Albania’s infrastructure and through this latest project we support further modernisation of Albanian roads. This project will help improve the quality and safety of transport in the cities of Fier and Vlore, bringing benefits to people and businesses, and the country’s economy overall,” said Jean-Marc Peterschmitt, EBRD managing director for Central and South Eastern Europe.

The EBRD loan is complemented by grant financing worth a total of €5.95 million, which will be used for technical assistance in the preparation of detailed designs for the two bypass roads, as well to support project implementation.

In addition a road tolling strategy for Albania and a study on sustainable transport policies in the country will be developed as part of this financing. The grants are provided by the Italian government, the European Union and the Western Balkans Investment Framework. Since the beginning of its operations in Albania, the EBRD has invested over €665 million in various sectors of the country’s economy, mobilising additional investments of more than €1.3 billion. This project forms part of a larger strategy that will see the development the road network in the Western Balkans.
Earthworks manager for the project is Huseyin Men and he said that where clay is used in the slopes, this has to be compacted and also stabilised with geosynthetics and other techniques. Men added that in all 14,700,000m3 of material has been excavated so far, while 5,800,000m3 of materials has been used as fill for the embankments of which 3,900,000m3 has come from the excavation process. Men explained that in 2012, “We are expecting to excavate another 10,600,000m3 and construct 4,000,000m3 of embankment.”

The quantities of materials being used for the project are impressive, especially considering that the construction commenced in mid 2010 and will be complete by the end of 2012. Men said that in all, the highway is featuring some 50km of drainage pipe, 11km of concrete drainage, 81km of structural concrete, 14.5km of pre-cast concrete, 212,000m3 of subbase and 85,000m3 of cement treated base.

Snow and rainfall can be heavy and in the soft areas of ground in particular, there has been substantial provision for drainage installed all along the route of the highway. But the latest techniques have been used to ensure that there is no contamination. Inal said, “We have lots of drainage channels outside of the alignment and all the water collected on the highway goes to separators to remove any oil.” He added that the water then filters through sedimentation ponds to remove any other contaminants, before being allowed back into the eco-system. This minimises the impact on water courses, another priority for the project, and the design of the highway was modified to accommodate this factor.

A challenge of a very different nature was the need for high quality stone to use as aggregate in the SMA asphalt that was specifically requested by the client for the road surface. This quality stone was also needed for the base of the roadway. “That rock was problematic to find,” commented Inal.

While a volcanic type rock of the quality required was identified in the north of Kosovo, this was in a conflict area with Serbia and meant that the quarry would not be available to supply the project. The immediate alternatives, trucking in materials from Albania or Macedonia, were not palatable. Paterson added, “This left us in a difficult position and we even looked at shipping material from Austria but it was too costly and also the logistics would have been very difficult.”

Bechtel-Enka and the Kosovan Government were both relieved when an alternative source
for this high quality volcanic rock was located within the country. Paterson said, “We quickly identified a site near the airport and we worked around the clock for two months to get the approvals process. When we took the rock from the top of the quarry it was not good but we drilled down and got what we needed to meet the specification.”

Bechtel-Enka installed modern crushing and screening equipment at the small privately owned quarry so as to ensure the aggregate met the cubicity specifications and size grades needed for the aggregate. The blasting at the quarry is being handled by the same specialist sub-contractor that is responsible for the blasting in the cuttings. The blasting operation has faced an additional challenge though as UN military forces (KFOR) are still based in Kosovo on a peacekeeping mission and Inal explained, “All movements of blasting materials are organised by KFOR.”

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Care has been taken to minimise the environmental impact
Care has been taken to minimise the environmental impact of the highway project
Material quality is strictly monitored from the crushing facility. Asphalt plants installed along the route produce the surfacing materials required, with on-site testing carried out continuously to ensure specifications remain within tolerance. With winter temperatures dropping as low as -27°C at times, the SMA grade has been specified to cope with the fierce temperature gradient and “Inal said, “The mix design was chosen to accommodate the local conditions.”

Bechtel-Enka uses Caterpillar or Dynapac pavers to lay the sub-base and Vögele 2100 machines to lay the wearing course. “We use the Vögele finishers for this as we get 92% compaction at the screed,” Inal said.

The highway design features a 40mm wearing course, a 50mm binder course and an 80mm base course, with a 200mm cement treated sub-base underlying the asphalt. Dynapac and Caterpillar compaction equipment is used to compact the sub-base while Hamm rollers tend to be used on the asphalt. At the start of each paving run the machines are guided by wires, “But once we reach the elevation we are using the ski of the paver,” Inal said. “We are always focused on safety, quality and our production rate. Our record at this project was paving 9,000tonnes of asphalt in one day.”

Steel barriers are used to separate the centrelane on the highway and because of the high productivity of the operation, an Orteco barrier robot is being used to install the sections while the line markings are being painted on by sub-contractor dbi Prismo.

A lot of the equipment Bechtel-Enka is using came from the firm’s prior contract in Albania but delivering the machines was not an easy task due to the poor existing road links. Moving the straddle carrier used for handling the pre-cast sections to the casting yard was a major job and it took 18 hours to get it over a mountain on the existing narrow and twisty roads. The pre-casting facility is located next to Bechtel-Enka’s main camp for the project and the location has allowed the precast sections to be moved in either direction along the alignment to the bridges where they are installed. The main camp provides temporary residence for some 1,000 people, while there are also two satellite camps housing 250 people each.

As the highway is making such a major change to the communities along the route, Bechtel-Enka has placed working with villagers and landowners as a priority. In this respect the close working relationship with the Kosovan Government has been very helpful. Community engagement programmes include education packages for schools, building walls and fences around schools, drilling wells. Bechtel-Enka has also shown a great deal of sensitivity with regard to war graves.

At the same time, Bechtel-Enka believes it will also leave a good legacy with regard to engineering skills and practices in Kosovo. Mort said, “We had to put a lot of effort into safety training as the Kosovans were not familiar with heavy civil construction but this has been successful.”

The highway project will also pass on some modern construction techniques to the Kosovans such as current slope protection methods, this being an important technology in a country featuring so much fractured and weathered rock. The financial benefit of the new Kosovan highway is expected to mirror that of neighbouring Albania, where the new highway has boosted the economy of what was formerly a depressed and remote area of the country. Highly mountainous, this part of Albania was sparsely populated and difficult to access but through traffic from Tirana to the Kosovan border has already improved the area, despite initial pessimistic views of the project.

A World Bank study of the Albanian highway project estimated that the route would carry a mere 2,000-4,000 vehicles/day, but traffic has ranged from 5,000-15,000 vehicles/ day and is expected to further grow once the link to Kosovan capital Pristina and the Route 6 highway to Macedonia are complete. The journey from Tirana to the Kosovan border took eight hours prior to the construction of the new highway in Albania. “Now it is two hours only,” said Inal.

With the focus on fast track construction, Bechtel-Enka has been keen to minimise the risks of workplace accidents. Paterson explained, “We have a large department for training and safety and we had to train all the people who come on-site. It’s a large training programme we put together.”

Some 3,800 people were on-site at the peak of the project, with around 2,000 machines and some 700 on/off highway tipper trucks, most of which were privately owned, in use. Demand for tipper trucks was greater than the Kosovan transport sector could match, with firms from Macedonia and Albania also sending trucks to the project.

“Altogether, we trained about 8,000 people,” said training manager Antonia Bramwell. She explained that Bechtel-Enka had a total of 50 separate training programmes relating to various skills or working machines. All workers had to undergo the basic course relating to site safety, with the courses carried out in Albanian, English and Turkish. She added, “At the peak we had 400-500 students/ week and we had a team of six instructors.” Bechtel-Enka has also assisted the Kosovan police by providing training into patrolling the route, dealing with traffic incidents and enforcement of the laws such as for speeding.

With vehicles travelling at 40km/h in town and averaging just 60km/h on the country’s existing main roads, the local police had no experience of dealing with fast moving vehicles traffic travelling at highway speeds of up to 130km/h. And Bechtel-Enka has also carried out an extensive safety education programme in Kosovo’s schools.

It is worth remembering too that Kosovo has other infrastructure projects due. Plans are in hand in Kosovo to build the shorter Route 6 highway that will link Pristina with Skopje, the capital of neighbouring Macedonia. The Kosovan Government has set out the plans for the project, which will be constructed under a concession model, although the start date has yet to be revealed and the value of the project has not so far been announced. The new Route 7 highway and planned Route 6 project will help deliver connections to the new highways being built in Bulgaria and Romania, eventually linking through to Turkey. Route
6 highway will present major engineering challenges of its own, with the route running through difficult terrain.

Opening to traffic

The first sections of the Route 7 highway that were opened run 38km between Morinë, at the border with Albania, and an area north of the town of Suhareka. When it is finished the highway will extend 102km to the north of Kosovo’s capital, Pristina and will serve as the centrepiece of the country’s national transport system. The project has been a major source of employment and around 70% of the workforce have been Kosovans, while 80 local firms have worked as subcontractors. Mike Adams, president of Bechtel’s civil infrastructure unit. “We would like to thank the Kosovan government for an excellent working relationship, which has helped us to complete the first part of the motorway within budget and a year ahead of schedule.” Construction started on the Kosovo motorway in April 2010.

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