December the 29th, 2023 – Further investment in Croatian roads, as well as changes to the way tolls are paid, have been announced by Transport Minister Oleg Butković.
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, it has been revealed that the tenders for the contractors for the A7 and A1 sections of the motorway will be published by the end of the year. The process of public consultation with interested economic entities for construction works on the 17-and-a-half-kilometre Križišće-Selce section, worth 310 million euros, and along the 28-kilometre Rudine-Osojnik section, for which the value of the works is estimated at 380 million euros, has now come to a close.
The selection of contractors, the signing of the accompanying contracts and their introduction to the construction sites themselves are expected during the first half of next year. Croatian Roads/Hrvatske ceste will finance the construction of sections of the A7 motorway from Križišće to Žuta Lokva, and of the A1 from Metković down to Dubrovnik.
Oleg Butković, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, recently poke about this investment in Croatian roads and in in transport infrastructure as a whole for HRT.
After the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council on amendments to the TEN-T Regulation (Regulation on the Trans-European Transport Network), Croatia, in addition to the existing two transport corridors (the Mediterranean corridor and the Rhine-Danube corridor), will be additionally positioned along two more – the Baltic Sea – Adriatic Sea and Western Balkans – Eastern Mediterranean.
A historic decision for Croatia
“This represents a a historic decision for us here in Croatia, since we’re the only country in the EU that went from having two corridors to getting an additional two. So, in addition to having the existing Mediterranean and Rhine-Danube, we ended up gaining two more. The south of the country wasn’t positioned along any corridor, and now we have a connection to Split and including Split, which entered the list of basic ports. That’s 430 kilometres of new railways and 410 kilometre of new roads, in addition to the existing road and railway infrastructure already along the existing corridors,” explained Oleg Butković.
This is a decision, added the minister, which allowed Croatia to continue its ongoing investment cycle in transport infrastructure using European Union funds.
“Of course, there are deadlines by which we have to build it, the basic network needs to be done by 2030, expanded by 2040 and become fully comprehensive by 2050. For Croatia, a number of road and rail routes went to a comprehensive network. By restructuring the debt itself, we’ve created the possibility to take on additional debt and to create space from refinancing to go towards the completion of, for example, the Adriatic-Ionian corridor, namely the Križišće-Žuta Lokva and Metković-Dubrovnik motorways. We’ll be able to realise all of these investments with joint forces – EU funds, favourable credit arrangements and our increasingly stable state budget,” the minister said.
“A tender has also been announced for the connection of Požega to the motorway, there is the Iločka transversal, the Srijem transversal, the Vukovar bypass, the Zagvozd-Imotski section, a series of expressways in Zagorje, Koprivnica and Virovitica, and expressways where we haven’t connected individual county centres on the continent to the expressway. Financial planning is underway for all of this, and some of it will be financed from EU funds,” he said.
Croatia’s infamous railways – a change for the better?
Alongside important investment in Croatian roads, Butković also noted that “it was objectively impossible to build motorway infrastructure, ports along the Adriatic, airports and railway infrastructure at the same time because Croatia simply doesn’t have that financial power”.
In the decade, as assured by Butković, the biggest investments in railway infrastructure are ahead, and some have already started. “Now we already have one and a half billion euros in investments, recently a tender was announced for the reconstruction of the complete Knin-Zadar line, a large tender of 600 million euros was announced for Dugo Selo-Novska, all these investments are slowly getting off the ground. It will take us ten years to complete all of this, as these are large and very complex projects,” said Butković.
Passengers are constantly being directed to using the railway as the best ecological solution, but only those from the central part of Croatia can actually travel by train. How realistic is it to travel to work or school by train? These questions remain an issue for almost all of Croatia.
“Around big cities, such as Zagreb, it works because we already rebuilt the railways around Zagreb. Last week we made a decision and we’re starting to raise a loan of 900 million euros to rebuild all local and regional railways, which we cannot finance from EU funds. Parallel to the main routes, we’re going to build a regional and local network,” revealed Butković, adding that he isn’t going to be making any unrealistic promises, but he is convinced that within a decade, most of the nation’s currently unimpressive railway infrastructure will be restored.
Alongside investment in Croatian roads, a new toll system is on the cards
Back in July, bids were opened for a tender worth 100 million euros for a new toll collection system. 10 bidders applied, mostly foreign companies, including one Croatian company. The evaluation of the received offers is now nearing the end. Butković revealed that the selection decision will be known in 10 days.
“After that, there will be an appeal process. I believe that we’ll start implementing the new system in 2024,” Butković said, adding that he believes that the whole process will not be prolonged further.