Connectivity Agenda: A New Bridge Towards the EU
Construction works on the connection of the downstream bridge over the Sava River on Corridor Vc near Svilaj were successfully completed at the end of February. The new cross-border bridge is part of the extension of the Mediterranean Corridor in the region and connects Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia at Svilaj on the Sava River.
The cross-border bridge is 660 meters long and has two components - a downstream bridge in the direction to Croatia and an upstream bridge in the direction to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each driving way will have three traffic lanes of 3.50 m width, an emergency lane with protective marginal strips on both sides, and monolith concrete footway. This motorway bridge is one of the most important infrastructure projects currently underway in both countries, as it will not only interconnect the two neighbors, but it will also connect Hungary and Central Europe to the Adriatic Sea via the Mediterranean Corridor.
Joining of the downstream cross-border bridge over the Sava River near Svilaj. (c) EU
The Power of Connectivity - Bringing Neighbours Closer Together
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the bridge is part of the first connectivity project approved under the Connectivity Agenda in 2015, which also includes the construction of modern and efficient border crossing facilities and 10.7 km of state-of-the-art motorway between Svilaj and Odzak. The works began in September 2016 and are well advanced; the motorway section is due for completion in May and the cross-border bridge by the end of the summer.
Once in full operation early next year, after the installation of the border crossing facilities, the motorway will allow for travel time speeds of 120km/h, thus significantly reducing the travel time through Bosnia and Herzegovina into Croatia, decrease in vehicle operation and maintenance costs by 6%, and reduction in accident rate by at least 7%.
This modern road infrastructure will enable better regional cooperation and connectivity between BiH and the EU. "The bridge not only connects two neigbouring countries but also residents from both sides of the Sava River”, said Deputy Minister of Communications and Transport of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sasa Dalipagic. "In the future, this bridge will be the crossing point on the way from Budapest to the southern Croatian Port of Ploce", said Minister of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure of Croatia Oleg Butkovic, during a site visit on 27 February on the completion of works on the connection of the downstream bridge.
The new investments increase opportunities for economic development in this area and employment of the local population. "There are already many daily crossings between the countries, although the closest bridges are 30 km away. Everybody is talking about this new bridge; it will make the travels much shorter, which is especially important for the transport of goods. Now we will be even closer”, said Tajana Lilic who works at the shop “Svilajka” in Svilaj, Croatia.
Each country finances the joint construction of the bridge in equal share, 50% each, and both parts are co-financed from EU funds. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Union made available a €25.09 million grant for the implementation of the project through the WBIF under the Connectivity Agenda in 2015, while loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) complement the national contribution.
Completion of the construction works on the connection of the downstream cross-border bridge over the Sava River near Svilaj. (c) EU