Saturday, 18 June 2022

Plenković: Constructing Pelješac Bridge One of Best Moves Proving Modern Sovereignty

ZAGREB, 18 June 2022 - Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenković said on Friday that the HDZ was committed to modern sovereignism and that the present-day sovereignism meant the construction of Pelješac Bridge to connect southernmost Croatia with the mainland.

Addressing a ceremony held to mark the 33rd anniversary of the establishment of the HDZ party in Zagreb, Plenković said that the priorities of the present-day sovereignty differed from the sovereignty's priorities some 30 years ago, and in this context he underscored the forthcoming inauguration of Pelješac Bridge on 26 July that will connect southernmost Croatia with the rest of the country.

The present-day priorities mean making efforts to join the euro area, he said recalling that the European Union's finance ministers endorsed Croatia's admission to the euro zone on 1 January 2023.

Also the modern sovereignty is proved by Croatia's admission to the Schengen area next year, and the investment in the procurement of multipurpose fighter jets and the highest investments in the Croatian defence system against a backdrop of the security threats, he said.

Commenting on the role of the state in times of crises, Plenković recalled the challenges his cabinet has so far dealt with: the case of the Agrokor company, the service of huge debts of Croatian shipyards, the coronavirus pandemic, two devastating quakes in northern and central Croatia in 2020 and the crisis caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

We are here, jobs have been retained, we have a positive economic growth and we have an investment grade. We no longer have excessive budget deficit, we have exited from excessive macroeconomic imbalances. The authorities stand behind 700,000 workers in the private sector and their salaries, and has helped over 120,000 companies to survive the crisis, Plenković said.

Plenković said that the HDZ party is homogeneous today and keeps high approval ratings in comparison to similar parties in central and eastern Europe that were founded at a watershed era when the Berlin Wal fell, the Communist systems were removed and when a wave of democracy spread over eastern Europe.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

After Much Spectulation, Official Pelješac Bridge Name Revealed

June 14, 2022 - After much speculation that the bridge connecting Croatia would be named after Oliver Dragojević, Marco Polo, Libertas, Homeland Bridge, Europe Bridge, among others, the final decision for the Pelješac Bridge name has been announced, and we hope nobody was paid too much to reach that decision.

In the last year, many names for the Pelješac Bridge have been proposed to the public: Oliver Dragojevic, Libertas, Marco Polo, Homeland Bridge, Europe Bridge, Croatian Integrity Bridge, and the like, and now the official Pelješac Bridge name is finally known, Net.hr writes.

The bridge that crosses the Mali Ston bay was given a very simple name: Pelješac! This was confirmed by the sign with the name that was placed at the beginning of the bridge last week on which it says "Pelješac" and below the name is its length - 2404 m.

Giving the name "Pelješac" also respected the common practice that when naming infrastructure facilities, as a rule, geographical toponyms of the area in which the facility is located are used.

Launched in the second half of July?

Another mystery remains, and that is the date of the opening of the bridge for traffic, as well as the opening of the part of the new road across Pelješac that connects to the bridge. According to unofficial information, it should be finally opened in the second half of next month.

Currently, the most critical situation is with the works on the Brijesta junction, which is located on the section of the Duboka-Sparagovići road, a little less than a kilometer from the Pelješac bridge on the peninsula itself. Strabag workers are trying to meet the deadline for its completion, which is July 13th.

Until then, the mentioned road to Sparagović should be completed. According to unofficial information, the section of the road from Sparagovići to the Prapratno junction built by the Greek company Avax has been completed and a technical inspection is underway.

Next month, in addition to the bridge, a section of the new road from Duboka to the Prapratno junction will be opened to traffic. The remaining part of the road to the Doli junction, which includes the Ston bypass, should be completed by the end of this year.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Tourist Interest in Pelješac Increases Ahead of Bridge Completion

June 8, 2022 - Tourist interest in Pelješac is increasing and the peninsula is already recording good tourist results. The opening of the Pelješac bridge, which will bring Croatia's second-largest peninsula closer to the mainland, will shorten travel time. This will surely mean the arrival of even more guests.

Peljesac attracts more and more guests from all over the world, reports HRT News.

''We love Orebić! It is very nice here: the weather was good, the food was delicious, all over Pelješac. We are really enjoying it, and maybe we will be back in September''., says Mihael from Poland.

''We have been coming to Viganj since the '80s, for surfing, so we are actually at home here. We will stay for about 3 weeks.'', says Vladimir, a Croat from Germany.

''We travel along the entire Croatian coast, from Zadar to Dubrovnik, we stay in every place for 2-3 days. We decided to come here because we did not know this part of the coast.'', adds Pasqual from France.

Tourism seems to have returned to the "old normal". The numbers in the pre-season are getting closer to the record ones.

''At pre-season, the index is 200 percent better than last year: 52 thousand overnight stays and I can tell you that we achieved 90 percent of turnover compared to 2019. Now, most foreigners in the pre-season come from Germany, so we hope it will continue in the high season.'', said Mladen Đeldum, director of the Orebić Tourist Board.

For two years in a row, the best small hotel in Croatia is an eco-hotel. The first season with the Pelješac bridge will surely remain in good memory. The changes are already visible.

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The Pelješac bridge. Image was taken on May 27th. (Photo: Miroslav Lelas/PIXSELL)

''This change has already begun even before the pandemic when houses on Peljesac began to be bought en masse. We are witnessing this because, as the hotel is open all year round, all those foreigners who come in the winter to look for a property stayed with us.'', says Sabina Mikulić, owner of the Adriatic Hotel.

The changes will be most noticeable in Ston, where they are afraid that, until the Ston bypass is completed, it will become a traffic bottleneck on the way to Dubrovnik.

The first cars over the Pelješac bridge should start transiting in the middle of summer. Hopefully, full of tourists eager for vacations.

The Pelješac bridge has been completed, and its commissioning requires the completion of at least some access roads. 

''We are located in Zaradeže, a place where in a few months, cars that will first pass through the long tunnel Debeli Brijeg will connect to the road across Pelješac. As we can see, the road is paved at the moment, everything is ready for the fence, and everything should be completed by July 13, when the access roads, together with the Pelješac bridge, should pass a technical inspection.'', the central Dnevnik told HTV's Vicko Dragojević.

Ing. Davor Perić from Hrvatske ceste says that the works at the Zaradeža hub are the most active.

''In this part, from the Pelješac bridge to this place where we are now standing, at the Zaradeža junction, the works are currently the most active. More than 500 people have been hired and the contractor has invested great resources and efforts to reach the July 13th deadline.'', Perić said.

He points out that certain parts of the section are being worked on day and night.

''In some parts of the section, primarily in the longest tunnel on the access roads, the Debeli Brijeg tunnel, work is done 24 hours a day. There are also teams for the completion of construction works, as well as electricians. There is a big crowd on the route and the contractor is really making every effort to finish on time.'', he says.

''Following the Zaradeža junction, the first 10 kilometers of the Ston bypass are expected to be opened this summer, which is about half of the part of the project carried out by the Greek contractor, Avax, and we expect that part, those 10 kilometers, will be ready this summer together with the Pelješac Bridge and the access roads.'', Perić said. 

Ston will become a traffic bottleneck on the way to Dubrovnik this summer until the Ston bypass is completed.

''The traffic will end at the Prapratno junction, where it will be directed to the town of Ston, and that will be the case until the complete completion of the project, until the connection to the highway. For that, the last section of 8 kilometers remained, which includes two tunnels and the Ston bridge, and we expect that to be completed by the end of the year.'', concluded Perić.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Pelješac Bridge Opening Confirmed for End of July

May 27, 2022 - Minister of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure Oleg Butković has confirmed that the Pelješac bridge opening will be at the end of July.

Most of the works on the access roads to the Pelješac Bridge are nearing completion. Minister Oleg Butković visited the bridge to confirm that everything was ready for the July opening, reports Dalmacija Danas.

Works on access roads are in full swing. However, everything will depend on July 13, when the technical inspection of access roads and connections with the bridge is scheduled. Then it will be known whether the access roads and the Pelješac bridge have a use permit. In that case, the bridge's grand opening would be in late July. The most distinguished guests from Croatia and the EU are expected at the opening.

Currently, the largest works are on access roads, more precisely at the Brijesta junction. New forces are constantly being brought in to finish everything on time. One of the major problems that emerged during the construction of access roads is the rage in prices on the global market, which has led to an increase in the cost of road connections in Croatia. It is estimated that there was a difference in costs of 100 to 150 million kuna.

"The bridge is finished; as far as access roads are concerned, we can say that at the end of July, we will open the Pelješac Bridge with part of the access roads, more precisely the second and third phases. The second phase goes from Duboka to Sparagović and the third phase from Sparagović to Prapratno. A total of 25 kilometers of roads. We still have eight kilometers of the Ston bypass and the connection to the state road D8, which should be completed by the end of the year," said Oleg Butković, Minister of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure.

"The contractors are working in challenging circumstances due to global market disturbances, but nothing will be called into question," the Minister said.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Peljesac Bridge Construction Still Ongoing as Season Approaches

May the 15th, 2022 - The tourist season is rapidly approaching, and Peljesac bridge construction works are still ongoing, with some final things to tie up and one or two issues to solve yet.

As Morski/Andrej Jelusic writes, the height of the summer season is just around the corner, and the largest road investment in all of Croatia, Peljesac Bridge, is still being constructed to a certain degree, despite numerous encouraging announcements. We'll be waiting until mid-July for the Peljesac bridge construction to be entirely completed and for the structure to be open to traffic, but that won't really be the end.

With the arrival of summer temperatures across Croatia, the tourist season has unofficially begun. Since the global coronavirus pandemic severely impeded global travel for two years, there was a fear that Croatian tourism would also continue to experience a real fiasco, writes net.hr.

Fortunately, that didn't happen. The reason is not some special campaign or vision of the Croatian Government but the country's very lucky position. More precisely, the fact that Croatia very close to large markets from where tourists came to us in previous years. The coronavirus pandemic has proven that people feel the safest when travelling by car, at least as far as this contagion is concerned. In other words, destinations to which people can drive on their own have benefited. Countries to which people usually fly suffered, and Dubrovnik, separated from the rest of Croatia by Bosnia and Herzegovina's only tiny piece of coastline (Neum), also suffered enormously.

Given the country's location and relatively good road network and connectivity, the past two summer tourist seasons have been better than expected. Road connectivity should be even better in the future, as well. The Istrian Y should get another lane, and the Ucka tunnel will be further improved. The most famous road project in the country is certainly the Peljesac Bridge construction, which will unite not only Croatian but EU territory, cutting out the BiH border crossing entirely.

The bridge will be there, but it will also be crowded...

Back in 2017, a tender was announced, and in 2018, Peljesac bridge construction began. The Republic of Croatia was granted 330m euros to finance 85 percent of the Peljesac bridge construction costs, and the bridge has been built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, which made a bid of 2 billion kuna, with a construction deadline of 36 months.

The works were slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic, but in July 2021, the last segment of the bridge was installed, and it was announced that the end of works on the bridge could be expected by the end of the year. At the beginning of 2022, the asphalt and other such equipment were installed on the huge structure, and a test load of the bridge was performed, which is why 21 trucks weighing up to 40 tonnes arrived at the Peljesac bridge construction site.

The problem has been the access roads with several viaducts and tunnels. The biggest challenge was the 485-metre-long Ston Bridge. Its specificity is that it will connect two tunnels above the Ston Bay, Polakovica, which is 1242 metres long, and Supava, which is 1290 metres long. The bridge has five pillars and two abutments, and is 40 metres high.

Ston Bridge has now been connected, but there is still a lot of work to be done on that section. A concrete slab is now to be built, which could take about four months, so that sometime in the autumn, perhaps come October or November, these works might also be completed.

When will Peljesac bridge actually be opened?

Peljesac bridge has passed a technical inspection and will be opened along with 20 kilometres of access roads in July this year. The other 10 kilometres of access roads and the Ston bypass will be completed by the end of the year. There will be a total of 32 kilometres of new state road, of which 25 should be ready by July the 15th. Unofficial information as to when the bridge will be open to the public is mid-July this year. Minister of Transport Oleg Butkovic was a little more specific and announced the opening on July the 15th to the 17th.

According to the contract, the workers of the aforementioned Chinese contractor will remain on the construction site until the commissioning of the Peljesac bridge with its accompanying access roads and the complete demobilisation and arrangement of the Peljesac bridge construction site. The contractor of the access roads is the Austrian company Strabag.

The suspended bridge spans a total length of 2404 metres with six main pillars and thirteen spans of steel which are 72 to 285 metres long, and was designed by Marjan Pipenbacher from the Slovenian company Ponting at a height of 55 metres. This was due to a request from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina so that the unimpeded passage of ships to Neum could be met.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 2 May 2022

Expect to be Able to Drive Across Peljesac Bridge at End of July!

May the 2nd, 2022 - Even though the company responsible for constructing the long awaited Peljesac bridge has been working day and night to get the massive project completed by the prescribed deadline, many of us thought the delays would just keep on rolling in for this gigantic Croatian and European Union project which will unite Croatian territory (the extreme south of Dalmatia and the rest of the country) to be completed.

It now seems that we can say with confidence that you'll finally be able to drive across the strategic project at the end of July this year.

Peljesac bridge, which will cut out the need for people driving to and from the extreme south of Dalmatia to cross into neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and then back out again (more precisely through the town of Neum, that country's only piece of coastline), is often referred to as the most significant project since the declaration of Croatian independence.

As Morski writes, Peljesac Bridge is finally scheduled to open this July, along with most of the access roads which have been taking some time to get completed. An HRT team visited the site to look at what stage the works on the bridge were at and whether they were affected by the recent earthquakes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were most felt in the wider Dubrovnik area.

''According to the current plans and dynamics of the works, people will likely be able to drive across Peljesac bridge during the second half of July when the works on the access roads are completed,'' said Jeroslav Segedin, the project manager for the Peljesac Bridge - Croatian roads (Hrvatske ceste).

He added that the technical inspection of the bridge has been performed, and that some minor shortcomings were noticed, which have been eliminated over more recent days. As for the bridge itself as a construction, everything is completely finished now, he pointed out. He also referred to the most technically demanding part - the Ston bypass.

''The construction of the bridge near Ston has been set, welded, and now a concrete slab is set to be built. It is expected to take four months, so in October or November these works should also be completed,'' he said. Segedin said the recent earthquake in Bosnia and Herzegovina didn't affect Peljesac bridge or any of the ongoing works and finalisations.

''When calculating the load-bearing capacity and stability of the bridge structure, one of the parameters is the seismic load, which in this case was much higher than what the earthquake was. We were more worried about how the earthquake affected other facilities along the route - viaducts, the Ston bridge, tunnels, which are still in the construction phase and haven't yet been completed. Fortunately, no damage or indicators were noticed that would suggest that something unexpected may have happened with any of the above,'' concluded Segedin.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Pelješac Tradition Museum Opens Ahead of Tourist Season

April 16, 2022 - The Pelješac Tradition Museum exhibits a unique collection of amphorae, old tools, bread ovens, and 19th-century olive mills collected by the Mikulić family. 

An impressive collection of amphorae more than two thousand years old, grinders, barrels, brandy cauldrons, old tools, fireplaces, bread ovens, paintings of the Virgin Mary, patron saint of vineyards, saddles, and a 19th-century olive oil mill of the famous Dubrovnik family Sorkočević - are just some of the exhibits in the unique collection that Mikulić family members have been collecting for years.

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In order to tell a story about the tradition and beauty of life on Pelješac, they opened the "Pelješac Tradition Museum" as part of their famous boutique winery in the Postup wine-growing location of Mokalo. An experience for all the senses because the tour ends with a tasting of their top pošip and postup, among which Don Josip stands out.

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"Our son Antonio named our famous act as a sign of respect for his grandfather Josip, from whom he inherited his love for viticulture, winemaking, and olive production. We have been engaged in vine growing and winemaking for generations, as have many families on Pelješac. We dedicated this museum to them, the farmers of Pelješac. Our tour symbolically begins in front of a picture of grandfather Josip and grandson Antonio; the focus is on wine transported from Pelješac in amphorae in antiquity and until the middle of the last century in bellows on loads and mules in a caravan. We have shown all this in our Museum, and in the end, the impressions are best gathered with wine," points out Igor Mikulić, who realized his dream by opening the Pelješac Tradition Museum.

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He has been creating this rich collection for years, although most of the exhibits have been very well known in tourist and wine circles for generations owned by families. His son Antonio, daughter Adriana, and wife Sabina are also involved in the business.

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The new project opened before Easter, and they completed the rich offer ahead of the new tourist season. In addition to the unique Adriatic wine resort camp and glamping and the award-winning boutique winery in Mokalo, they own the luxury heritage hotel Adriatic with a beautiful la carte restaurant.

All photos by Boutique vinarija Mikulić

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Omiš Bypass Project One of Croatia's Highest Priorities

April 8, 2022 - Minister of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure Oleg Butković spoke for HRT about major transport infrastructure projects in Croatia that are underway and plans for the future. He especially commented on the Pelješac Bridge and the Omiš bypass.

"We do not have the exact date of the Pelješac Bridge opening yet, but everything is going well. The bridge is finished, and we are now concentrating on the access roads. As for the bridge itself, the procedure is more about documentation, and access roads are being worked on in a hurry. We expect the opening of the Pelješac Bridge and part of the access roads in mid-July. This year we will witness a massive event. It is a large infrastructure project, the most important because it is about merging the state territory," said Butković.

"I must be satisfied because despite COVID-19 and all the recent events, major infrastructure projects, including the Pelješac Bridge, were built at a good pace, so there were no delays," he said.

The opening of part of the access roads will cover a little more than 12 km, but the completion includes the Ston bypass and the Ston bridge, which should be completed by the end of this year. However, Butković added that there were some delays in that part due to unforeseen circumstances.

"By the end of the year, we will connect southern Dalmatia, which includes the Pelješac Bridge, 30 km of access roads with the Ston Bridge, and a large project, which is impressive with a 500 m across Ston Bay."

A specific opening date for the bridge with part of the access roads will be known in May, and the opening will be sometime in July.

"The Omiš bypass project is also being done. Last year we broke through the Komorjak tunnel; now, the bridge over the Cetina is slowly springing up. I toured it about ten days ago, the view from the bridge is really impressive. It is one of the most impressive projects, and it is complex because there are big bridges and tunnels. The Omiš Bypass project will be completed in a year and a half at this stage, but we must solve the entire multimodal platform," said the Minister of Transport.

Butković pointed out that the biggest traffic problems are in that part of Croatia. The 50,000 vehicles a day on the existing old D8 highway from Split to Omiš in the summer and through Omiš is simply unsustainable, he says. 

"I would say that the construction of the Omiš bypass is one of the highest priorities in Croatia today. The completion of its construction will be financed in the next financial perspective. We have confirmed from the European Commission that the entire multimodal platform from Solin, Split to Omiš will be financed with European funds. Croatian Roads is also preparing the project's next phases," he said.

He added that the Ministry would announce a tender for the section from Omiš to Dugi Rat by the end of this year.

"We recently visited the Omiš port, one of the largest port infrastructure projects in Croatia today. It is about 90 million kuna; the road is being relocated, the new port will improve and make life easier for people in that part," he said.

"According to all the announcements, the season should be good for our Jadrolinija liner, but recent events are likely to have consequences for tourism. According to Jadrolinija, we had certain interventions at the end of 2021 since they did not have any help from the state during the entire period of the pandemic.

Jadrolinija is stable; they should start purchasing new ships this year. The plan is to build three new "Postira" because the famous "Postira" is over 50 years old, but it sails. I can't talk about procedures and tenders, but modernizing is crucial for Jadrolinija," said Butković when asked about plans for Jadrolinija.

He pointed out that procuring new ships is also a priority of Jadrolinija.

"Without new ships, we will have a problem in a few years when tenders are announced because there is always a danger that someone who has more modern ships will take over the line. Therefore, the process to modernize and buy new ships must go faster," the Minister of Transport concluded. 

For more, check out our lifestyle section

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Construction Works on Pelješac Bridge Have Finally Been Completed!

January 27, 2022 - After 1277 days, the construction works on Pelješac bridge were completed yesterday, and now the technical inspection follows.

Jutarnji List reports that the technical inspection of the bridge began today, which should be completed by 31 January. Although the formal completion of the works is calculated after the completion of the technical inspection, because during the inspection some shortcomings can be identified that need to be further corrected, today it is possible to say that the construction works on Pelješac bridge have been completed.

The Chinese company CRBC started the construction of the Peljesac bridge on July 30, 2018. On that day, the President of the Croatian Roads Administration, Josip Škorić, handed over all the documentation to the CRBC representatives in Ston, a diary of works was opened and a report on the introduction of the Chinese contractor was signed. The deadline for completion of works was 36 months and 29 days. Although the technical inspection is included in that deadline, it can be said that the construction of the bridge took 52 days longer than planned.

But when you take into account that the works stopped for several months due to the coronavirus epidemic, it can be said that the bridge was completed before the set deadline. After the successful completion of the technical inspection, the procedure for obtaining all necessary permits for the bridge will follow.

At this moment, the works on the bridge have been completed and the connecting road leading from the Adriatic Highway to the bridge will be completed soon.

According to the latest official announcements from Hrvatske ceste, the connecting road from the Adriatic Highway to the bridge, and the new Pelješac road from the bridge to the Prapratno junction will be opened to traffic in the summer. The rest of the road, from the Ston bypass to Doli, should be completed by the end of this year at the latest.

For more, check out our travel section.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Works on Pelješac Bridge to Be Completed this Month, PM Says

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - The works on Pelješac Bridge will wrap up by the end of the month and the access roads are coming along too, so this tourist season it will be possible to drive across the bridge, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday while visiting the site in southern Croatia.

There is ten more days' work on the bridge and a peak traffic test is planned for the end of the month, to be followed by technical checks, he added.

"As announced, the construction of Pelješac Bridge will be near completion by the end of January 2022."

He said the construction of access roads by Austria's Strabag and Greece's Avax was "coming along" and that they were expected to "be near completion in May and June," while the completion of a road near Ston "should follow in early autumn."

"That's what's good at the moment, but this means that it will be possible to drive across Pelješac Bridge this tourist season, which means without crossing borders and the congestion in Neum," Plenković said, adding that thereby Croatia was becoming "a propulsive auto destination, which is extremely important in 2022."

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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