The bridge connects the Pelic Peninsula to the mainland. It bypasses the Neum Pass, a 15-kilometer coastal strip of Bosnia and Herzegovina that lies between the Croatian coast north and the rest of Dalmatia. Since Bosnia and Herzegovina is not part of the European Union, travelers and tourists sometimes had to wait for a long time at border crossings.
The journey between Zagreb and Dubrovnik took a good six hours, and the bridge should be two hours shorter. For travelers, time-consuming border controls when driving through Bosnia will also be a thing of the past. Despite the opening of the bridge, you still have to wait for a ride completely free of traffic jams. By the end of the year, the bypass around Stone Town should be ready.
357 million euros from the European Union
The entire project, the bridge and more than 30 kilometers of access roads, has an investment volume of 525 million euros, to which the European Union contributed 357 million euros from the Cohesion Fund. The bridge was built by the state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRCB). The Chinese group rejected STRABAG and an Italian-Turkish consortium in a tender. On the other hand, STRABAG has built part of the access roads.
Construction had to be stopped temporarily
The idea of creating a bridge to the Pelísac Peninsula dates back more than 20 years. Previous concrete plans were not realized due to lack of funds. The construction work that started in 2007 initially slowed down due to the economic crisis, and construction stopped in 2010. The project gained new impetus only after Croatia joined the European Union and the possibility of financing with EU funds.
Peljesac Bridge opened in Croatia
Croatia celebrated the opening of a two-and-a-half-kilometre bridge linking the southern Adriatic coast, including Dubrovnik, with the rest of the country.
In 2017, the European Union injected hundreds of millions of euros, which covered about 85 percent of the project’s costs. A year later, Chinese state-owned CRCB was commissioned to build – the first significant Chinese participation in an infrastructure project in Croatia.
Prime Minister Plenkovic: ‘A historic day for Croatia’
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković spoke of a historic day for the country, on which a national and strategic project for the whole of Croatia was implemented. “We made the Croatian dream come true,” Plenkovic said at the opening ceremony.
Referring to significant funding from the European Cohesion Fund, Plenkovic highlighted the Union’s principle of solidarity, which helps less developed member states. He stressed that Croatia could use its EU membership in the best way. The Croatian prime minister added that the bridge is also a project linking Croatia with China.
EU Commission Vice-President Dubravka Soica, who hails from Dubrovnik, congratulated Croatia on the successful completion of the largest EU-funded infrastructure project in the newest EU country. The deputy commissioner said the bridge is a symbol of European values, solidarity and support among EU members.
accompanied by protests
The construction of the bridge was controversial and was accompanied by protests from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Authorities have complained that the bridge will make access to the sea more difficult for large ships traveling to and from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Then Zagreb agreed to build the 55-meter-high bridge. This means that even the largest ships can sail under – recently, a cruise ship docked in Neom for the first time.
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic also addressed the protests in the neighboring country in his speech at the opening ceremony. “The Peljesak Bridge was built for the benefit of Croatia and its people, but it did not harm or challenge anyone, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the president said.
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