Dubrovnik, Croatia | Sept 02 (Tirana Echo) – Croatia has begun building a 2,4 km bridge over the sea, linking the two parts of its territory cut in half by 20km Bosnian maritime chunk of land. The bridge will be Europe’s second longest of its kind.
Croatians hope the ‘Peljesac Bridge’ which will stretch 2.4 km from the southern peninsula of Pelješac to the mainland, will solve one of their biggest touristic frustrations, where travelers have to go through 4 border checkpoints to join popular Dubrovnik from the northern part of its mainland.
Since the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Croatia’s maritime line was cut in half by 20km of sea shore which belongs to Bosnia & Herzegovina, a legacy since ottoman times which secured the strip under Turkish control. The creation of the new post-Yugoslav republics imposed borders between the new Balkan neighbors.
As a result, travelers who drive through Croatia’s coastline are often puzzled and frustrated at the long lines on 4 border checkpoints, which are often dubbed by tourists as total nuisance.
The bridge which has been a Croatian project for a long time, will be built by Chinese consortium China Road and Bridge Corporation which earlier in April signed a contract with Croatian road operator Hrvatske Ceste for the construction of Pelješac Bridge and access roads, for a total of €400 million Euros or 2,8 billion Croatian Kuna.
The European Union has granted €357 million of its cohesion funds to build the Pelješac Bridge which will connect the Croatian peninsula of Pelješac, and through it the southernmost part of Croatia including Dubrovnik, with the Croatian mainland.
Croatia’s prime minister Andrej Plenkovic said this project is of strategic and long-term importance to the whole country and will make Croatia unique.
“We are all aware how important it is for us to build this bridge and include the south of Croatia into the motorway infrastructure network. This is important for all our fellow citizens in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County,” the prime minister said during the signing of the contract.
The Chinese have promised to complete the Pelješac Bridge by 2021, while some in Bosnia have expressed concerns the bridge will block the country’s open sea access to large ships and cruise vessels.
Croatia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Last year the Balkan country was visited by 17,400,000 tourists who had 86,200,000 overnight stays. During the same year Croatia’s tourism revenues amounted €9.5 billion.
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