The Peljesac Bridge will help improve the free flow of people between Croatia and other Central and Eastern European countries, said Premier Li Keqiang at a press conference along with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic at the construction site of the Peljesac Bridge on April 11.
“It (the Peljesac Bridge) will be a peaceful and safe bridge, connecting the two parts of Croatia without land connections before and safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity,” Premier Li said.
At the current stage, the only road connection between mainland Croatia and its far south – including the popular southern Adriatic tourist destination of Dubrovnik – passes through neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to Reuters.
“The bridge, to which the local people have been looking forward many years, is a major infrastructure project between China and Croatia, indicating the friendship and cooperation of the two nations,” Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said.
The 2,440-meter Peljesac Bridge, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Croatia with an estimated cost of some 420 million euros ($473.43 million) will be 55 meters high and 22.5 meters wide with four lanes, connecting the southernmost part of Croatia with the Peljesac Peninsula.
“It will be a bridge towards the well-being and development of Croatia, advantageous to the free flow of people between Croatia and other Central and Eastern European countries, the development of Croatia, especially the convenient life for Croatian people,” Premier Li commented.
As a symbolic bridge of the 16+1 cooperation mechanism between China and EU, the project was bid on by Chinese companies and will be constructed in accordance with EU standards, according to Premier Li. “The company, Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), must and will spare no efforts to complete all tasks required by the contract.”
“The rain outside is getting heavier at the moment. It seems to be telling our builders that this bridge must be an extraordinary project withstanding the wear and tear of any storms and disasters,” said Premier Li, hoping that “the Croatian people could enjoy the benefits and conveniences brought by this bridge as soon as possible.”
Plenkovic said he believes that the Peljesac Bridge would be completed on schedule thanks to the tremendous strength of Chinese companies.
This is the first ever major EU infrastructure project involving a Chinese company and the European Union.
In January 2018, a Chinese consortium led by the CRBC won the bid for the first-phase construction of the bridge and its access roads, beating Austrian construction firm Strabag, which offered 2.6 billion kunas ($390 million), and Italy’s Astaldi and Turkey’s IC Ictas, which jointly made a 2.5 billion kuna bid.
“Since the CRBC is an international company, we always build in line with international standards. Therefore, we’ve employed many local engineers to devote to the projects. I think, on the one hand, we need to bring our mature experience of building bridges at home to here; on the other hand, we need to make more friends worldwide to strive for excellence of the current project jointly,” according to Wang Xuefeng, technical director of the CRBC.
“The project is vital for both Croatia and the People’s Republic of China, as it is their first such project in the European Union,” Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic noted. “Croatia acknowledges the importance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. There is a potential for even better and diversified approaches to cooperation between the two sides.”
The president also said the megaproject has heralded a new chapter in Croatia-China ties, and she is delighted that the construction process is going faster than projected.