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The bridge will pass through the only sliver of sea conecting Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Adriatic , Source: Ponor on WIkipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Croatia ready to open controversial Pelješac Bridge

Croatia ready to open controversial Pelješac Bridge

The bridge will connect the exclave region of Dubrovnik to the rest of the country, bypassing the Bosnian city of Neum

Today, the Croatian controversial Pelješac Bridge (Pelješki most) will be officially opened, as the Croatian news agency Hina reports. The 2,400-metre-long bridge is supposed to connect the exclave region of Dubrovnik with the rest of Croatia, as the two are split by a sliver of land near the city of NeumBosnia and Herzegovina’s only port.

Connecting Croatia

The whole project, including the land purchased from private owners, cost 525 million euros with 357 million coming from an EU grant. This makes the Pelješac Bridge the largest infrastructure project completed with European backing.

The bridge is 2,400 metres long and connects the village of Komarna on the continental part of Croatia with the village of Brijesta on the Pelješac peninsula in the Dubrovnik exclave. The bridge will create a direct road link between the southmost tip of Croatia with the rest of the country.

Bridge planning took the Croatian government years and successive governments to complete with the project getting off the ground in 2018. The construction deal was awarded to the Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation. Initially, construction was supposed to last for 36 months, however, work slowed down due to COVID-19.

Nevertheless, the bridge and most of the accompanying infrastructure like connecting roads are nearly done, with the notable exception of the circular road around the Croatian town of Ston.

The controversy surrounding the project

The project was plagued by controversy from the very start, according to Hina. After the project was awarded to the Chinese company, the other two bidders decided to appeal the decision.

At the same time, many Bosnian politicians have been vocal opponents of the project, as the bridge has the potential to bottleneck the country’s only exit to the sea. In August 2017, the Bosnian Minister of Civil Affairs, Adil Osmanović, sent a letter to the Croatian Minister of Maritime Affairs, Oleg Butković, saying that Bosnia plans to cancel the two countries’ agreement on their maritime borders.

Currently, the two countries have agreed to grant maritime rights in Neum bay to Croatia. The decision was, however, blocked by the Bosnian Serb and Croatian representatives in parliament, with the opinion that a country can connect parts of its territory.

According to official sources, the Pelješac Bridge allows ships to pass freely under it, giving them access to Bosnia’s port of Neum. Furthermore, the bridge’s profile was negotiated with Bosnian experts to avoid the aforementioned bottleneck.

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