Investment in the Pelješac Bridge has been one of the most important projects in the post-war history of modern Croatia. For years, the only route from mainland Croatia to Dubrovnik and the magnificent Pelješac Peninsula has passed through Bosnia and Herzegovina. During peak tourist season, the border queues can be horrendous, so it’s no wonder the investment is said to have significantly increased the potential of the southern locations. Everyone hopes to benefit – the locals as much as the tourists.
Pelješac Bridge: 165 steel spans, 90,000 Inhabitants
The completion of the largest infrastructural project is perceived as an immense achievement for the Croatian people. The magnitude is genuinely breathtaking. The bridge is 2.4 km long and consists of 165 steel segments. The total investment cost amounted to EUR 550 million and was partially funded by the European Union.
The tender was won by China Road and Bridge Corporation in 2017, and it was the first Chinese company ever to win a European Union tender. Xu Erwen, China’s Ambassador to Croatia, emphasized that this was “the largest transportation infrastructure project undertaken by a Chinese company in Croatia since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Croatia.”
Construction of the bridge became a necessity after Bosnia and Herzegovina were granted sea access during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, which formed an unfortunate ‘gap’ in Croatian territory. Approximately 90,000 Croatian citizens living in the most southern part of their homeland had no direct access to the rest of the country and were forced to travel through the Bosnian territory to reach the mainland. It goes without saying that the opening of the bridge will greatly impact the everyday lives of people living in the area.
A Wednesday night that will go down in history
Hundreds have gathered along the coastline, and some even took to their boats. Everyone wanted to see the last element put in place. As the job was done, a fireworks display celebrated the historical moment that was awaited by generations. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said, “The Pelješac Bridge is a fascinating strategic achievement of the Croatian people and the government that will serve generations to come.”
He also said that the bridge “connects the European Union.” This remark is even more important considering that Croatia is widely expected to join the Schengen zone in January next year. Regarding the neighboring country of Bosnia, the Prime Minister made it clear that “This bridge does not divide Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the contrary, it connects it.”
First Cars to cross over Pelješac Bridge in the spring
The locals will have to remain patient for a bit longer as the connecting roads will not be completed until June next year. However, the investment is planned to be open to the public a little sooner – in the spring of 2023. The last stretch always seems like the longest one, but the finish line is in sight. Now more clearly than ever before.