After a decade of silence and complete inactivity, the Croatian Government is moving once again towards the temptation of a highway construction project towards Dubrovnik, a move initially started by former PM Ivo Sanader.
As Kresimir Zabec/Novac writes on the 2nd of February, 2019, after a rather unnecessarily lengthy and of course unclear title, the conclusion of the ”study documentation for the road connection of southern Dalmatia to the motorway network system of the Republic of Croatia from the Metković junction to the future Pelješac bridge and from the Doli junction to the City of Dubrovnik” (yes you can take a breath now), which was adopted during Friday’s Government session held in Dubrovnik, has actually led back to the beginning of re-activating the old plan to build a highway to Dubrovnik.
The last time constructing a highway to Dubrovnik was mentioned was way back in 2009, ten whole years ago, when a construction contract worth 3.675 billion kuna was signed in Osojnik in the presence of the controversial former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, an amount which didn’t include the VAT for the planned Doli – Dubrovnik section. Although the contracts were indeed signed, the money for this project was never secured, therefore the works never started and all in all, time went by and people simply forgot about it for the most part.
Although there are permits, projects and designs from that time that still exist and could be acceptable today, Croatian roads (Hrvatske ceste) will spend 4.06 million kuna this year to take a better look at the southern Dalmatian transport system in the area of Dubrovnik-Neretva County and its link with the existing highway network, and determine the feasibility of any highway construction from the existing Metković junction to the future Pelješac bridge, and then from Doli to the City of Dubrovnik. They’ll also rule whether or not it is simply better to use the highway through neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Croatia’s Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, has already jumped the gun when it comes to the talks held on Friday, stating that the Ploče – Dubrovnik motorway will be built, but the question is when. He is counting on the EU being prepared to co-finance the project in the next operational period. However, some insist that a study is needed because the road image itself has changed over the past ten years, not only in southern Croatia, but also in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The motorway was built behind Ploče and the where the future Pelješac bridge will be, in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, the construction of part of the Vc corridor from Počitelj to the border with Montenegro through Popovo polje has also begun.
Compared to ten years ago, the highway would now be changed somewhat. Back then, the route went from Ploče to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina at Neum and then continued on the other side down south to Dubrovnik.
It was estimated that eighty kilometres of highway from Ploče to Dubrovnik could cost around 732 million euros.
Today, it is assumed that the direction would go from the current Karamatići junction to the Pelješac junction, from where traffic will go down to Pelješac bridge. That equals approximately twenty kilometres of brand new highway sections. The traffic would continue along the new Pelješac road to the Doli junction, and from there 29.6 kilometers of highway would be built leading down to Dubrovnik.
According to the old 2009 project, a total of thirty objects needed to be built, of which there were ten viaducts, nine tunnels, and eight underpasses. Back then, the price of one kilometre of construction was 16.5 million euros without VAT, equalling a total of almost half a billion euros without VAT. The price of the construction of the highway from Karamatići to Pelješac is as yet unknown, but this section is also a very demanding part of the project as the route passes through the Neretva valley, so a high level of environmental protection will be required. Owing to all of the above, estimates are that the entire highway from Ploče down to Dubrovnik could stand at a massive 800 million euros.