|Carries||4-lane wide expressway|
|Crosses||Neretva Channel / Bay of Mali Ston|
|Total length||2,404 metres (7,887 ft)|
|Width||21 metres (69 ft)|
|Longest span||568 metres (1,864 ft)|
|Clearance below||55 metres (180 ft)|
The Pelješac Bridge (Croatian: Pelješki most) is the name of a planned bridge in Croatia the construction of which had started in 2007 but stalled and was canceled in 2012. However, the French study suggested that it is the most profitable solution, and is, as of December 2013, planned to be built in 2015. The bridge is intended to connect the Croatian peninsula of Pelješac, and through it the southernmost part of Croatia including Dubrovnik, with the Croatian mainland, spanning the Adriatic Sea, which separates the two near the Bay of Mali Ston and the Neretva Channel.
The bridge construction has been a contentious political issue since the inception of the idea. The Croatian Democratic Union-led governments supported the project, but it did not progress past early construction phases.
Because the Croatian mainland is intersected by a small strip of the coast around the town of Neum which is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, forming Bosnia and Herzegovina's only outlet to the sea, the physical connection of the southernmost part of Dalmatia with the rest of Croatia is limited to Croatian territorial waters.
In 1996, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia signed the Neum Agreement in which Croatia was granted unobstructed passage through Neum, but the agreement was not fully implemented in practice and instead all the traffic is still encumbered by border checkpoints.
In the process of accession of Croatia to the European Union, the Croatian Government had claimed that a bridge would be a "prerequisite" for Croatia to enter the Schengen Area, but the European Commission stated in 2010 that this is only one of several options to handle the issue.
According to the construction plan accepted in 2007, the Pelješac Bridge would be a 2,404-metre (7,887 ft) long, 55-metre (180 ft) high beam and cable-stayed bridge, with a main span of 568 metres (1,864 ft). It would be 21 metres (69 ft) wide, enough to accommodate 4 lanes of traffic. If constructed, this span would be the second largest in Europe. The two pylons would be 115 metres (377 ft) above the road deck, 170 metres (560 ft) above sea level, and 240 metres (790 ft) above the seabed. The beam part of the bridge would be composed of 14 smaller pylons (7 from Brijesta on Pelješac side and 7 from Komarna on Croatian mainland side), each built 180 metres (590 ft) apart, with a span of 180 meters.
Beside the construction of the bridge, access roads at both sides of the bridge require construction, including 2 tunnels on Pelješac (one 2,170 metres (7,120 ft) and other 450 metres (1,480 ft) long) as well as two smaller bridges on Pelješac, (one 500 metres (1,600 ft) and another 50 metres (160 ft) long).
The bridge cannot form part of the A1 motorway, currently connecting Zagreb and Ploče, because it is not planned to include the requisite number of lanes to support it. The road from Ploče through the bridge towards Ston and further south to Dubrovnik is planned to be a 4-lane highway.
In 1997, the Prefect of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Ivan Šprlje of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) publicly proposed the construction of the bridge. Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) initially rejected the idea, but in 1998 it gained support of their MP Luka Bebić. In 2000, the bridge was added to the spatial plan of the County, and the first construction plans were proposed.
The price of the bridge project rose significantly compared to the initial estimates. Nevertheless, the construction works on the Pelješac project were officially commenced in November 2005 in a grand opening led by then-Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.
The idea that a large bridge should connect Pelješac with the mainland has caused concern among the ecological activists in Croatia, who opposed it because a potential damage to the sea life in the bay of Mali Ston, as well as the mariculture. These risks and concerns were explicitly addressed by the constructors in the preliminary studies.
The idea is also opposed for various economic reasons - whether such a bridge is really necessary as opposed to making a different deal with Bosnia and Herzegovina, whether it is too expensive if built according to ecological demands, or whether it is best replaced with an undersea tunnel.
The construction of the bridge has also been opposed by the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as it would complicate its access to international waters. It opposed the building of the bridge, originally planned to be only 35 meters high, because it would have made it even more impossible for large ships to enter the little harbor of Neum. Although said harbor is not currently fit for commercial traffic, and most of the trade to and from Bosnia and Herzegovina goes through the Croatian port of Ploče, the Bosnian government declared that a new one might be built in the future, and that the construction of the bridge would compromise this ambition.
Then prime minister Ivo Sanader persisted with the idea of a bridge, and changed the design to reflect the concerns of BiH to the current plans. The two sides did agree on the construction of the bridge in early December 2006.
In May 2007, the Croatian minister of infrastructure Božidar Kalmeta said that preparations for the construction of the bridge were going according to plan, and that an initial tender was under preparation. Kalmeta added that the question of when the construction works would begin depended on whether a constructor would be selected in the first round. On June 11, 2007, Hrvatske ceste announced a public auction for the construction of the bridge. On August 28, the list of bidders was released:
- Konstruktor, Viadukt and Hidroelektra (from Croatia)
- Dywidag (Germany), Strabag (Austria), Cimola (Italy), Eiffel (France)
- Alpine Bau (from Salzburg, Austria)
Kalmeta confirmed construction works were to start in Autumn 2007. The contractor is obliged to complete the project in four years. Construction costs were estimated at HRK 1.9 billion, nearly 260 million euros. It would be financed by Hrvatske ceste and by loans by European investment banks.
In June 2007, after the tender was published, the media reported renewed opposition from the State Border Commission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared that it would sue Croatia if it started building the bridge unilaterally.
On September 14, 2007, the Ministry of Construction announced that the Konstruktor/Viadukt/Hidroelektra consortium had won the contest and that it would sign a contract for 1,945,388,829.86 kuna, or roughly 265 million euros at the time. Construction works on the northern and southern termini commenced on October 24, 2007, with sea works starting in the autumn of 2008.
In July 2009, the Croatian Government under Jadranka Kosor announced that, as part of the effort to reduce expenses during the economic crisis, the construction of the Pelješac Bridge was to proceed under a much slower timetable than originally planned. In November 2009 Kalmeta mentioned 2015 as the year of completion. The 2010 budget and road-building programme indicated that by the end of 2012, only 433.5 million kuna or 60 million euros would be invested in the bridge, which is less than a quarter of the total.
After the Croatian parliamentary election, 2011, the new SDP-led government terminated the existing construction contract worth 1.94 billion Kuna (c. 259 million Euro) for lack of funds in May 2012. At the same time, plans were made to use the bridge construction sites as new ferry docking sites. There was also discussion regarding how the cost and speed of the ferry solution would compare to that of the cancelled bridge, with the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure claiming the ferrying would be less expensive and reasonably fast, as well as complete by 1 July 2013, which is when Croatia joined the European Union and when the new border regime could have become a problem.
However, the bridge may still be built, since Croatia is currently negotiating with the EU to get funding for the project. Dnevnik Nova TV has also showed that a highly surveillanced highway corridor with high walls through Bosnia-Herzegovina was another possibility.
In September 2012, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusić announced, while interviewed on the Dnevnik (Diary) programme on HRT, that the European Union had granted Croatia a sum of 200.000 Euros for a pre-feasibility study of the construction of the Pelješac Bridge. The study would examine not only the projected bridge, but also the solution of a closed road corridor across the hinterland of Neum.
"The strategic aim of the Government is to effectively connect the territory of Croatia, which is also a goal of the EU, because the Croatian territory is to become a territory of the Union. This project should not be politicized, but rather we should see which action is most cost-effective", Pusić claimed.
She emphasized that the ratification of the Tuđman-Izetbegović treaty of 1996 (Neum Agreement) was not a condition to receive European funds for the construction of the bridge, but it would be no harm if it did happen.
A French study suggested in December 2013 that the bridge is the most feasible solution, and Croatian Minister of Traffic stated that the construction of the bridge will probably start in 2015.
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- Eduard Šoštarić (2007-03-13). "Natječaj za most Jarun je namješten" [Jarun Bridge tender is rigged]. Nacional (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- Institut IGH. "The Summary Study on the Pelješac Bridge". Croatian Ministry of Nature Preservation. "Iz, u SUO, opisanih hidrogeoloških značajki područja istraživanja uočljivo je da se s pristupnih cesta, a i s Mosta kopno - Pelješac ne smije dopustiti direktan upoj voda u okolni teren bez prethodnog pročišćavanja."
- "The Government needs to issue a public tender for the Peljesac Bridge". Nacional. 2005-11-21. Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- "The Peljesac Bridge would be much better off as a Tunnel". KorčulaInfo.com. 2006-12-12. Retrieved 2010-05-14. "According to article published in Slobodna Dalmacija [...] prof. dr. sc. Jure Radnić, the head of Bridge and Concrete Department of Faculty of Civil Engineering from Split, Croatia [...] told them that much better and cheaper way to solve the problem of connecting Croatian territories, would be a TUNNEL (!)"
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- "Hajdaš Dončić: Nemamo 4 milijarde kuna za Pelješki most". Dnevnik.hr (in Croatian) (Nova TV (Croatia)). 2012-05-09. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Pelješki most otišao u povijest. Hajdaš Dončić: Izvođačima će se platiti za već obavljeni posao, ali ne i naknadu za izgubljenu dobit". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
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- "Pelješki most otišao u povijest. Milanović: Taj most nije besmislica, ali njegova izgradnja nije dovoljno ozbiljno isplanirana" [Pelješac Bridge is history. Milanović: That bridge is not a nonsense, but its construction was not sufficiently seriously planned]. Večernji list (in Croatian). 17 May 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "Gradilište Pelješkog mosta pretvara se u trajektnu luku za kamione?". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
- ""Plava obilaznica" Neuma: Umjesto mosta i koridora, Hrvatska gradi dva trajekta?" (in Croatian). Index.hr. 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
- Josip Bohutinski (4 June 2012). "Trajekti će biti skuplji i od pelješkog mosta" [Ferries to cost more than the Pelješac Bridge]. Večernji list (in Croatian). Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "Nova trajektna linija kopno - Pelješac" (in Croatian). Croatian Radiotelevision. 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
- Pelješac Bridge at Structurae. Retrieved on 2009-03-07.
- Computer visualization of the Pelješac Bridge
- Details of the construction of the Pelješac Bridge
- Pelješac Bridge Viadukt's billboard
- PDF (286 KiB).
- PDF (352 KiB).
- PDF (726 KiB) - In Croatian with short English summary .
- Bosnia forbids passage of Dubrovnik motorway through its territory