China-built bridge set to open for traffic in Croatia

A bridge crane hoists the last piece of the Peljesac Bridge into place in Croatia on July 28 last year. The bridge opens to traffic on Tuesday, allowing commuters to significantly reduce their travel time. XINHUA

The Peljesac Bridge, which opens for traffic on Tuesday, will deepen mutually beneficial relations between China and Croatia and the European Union, a senior diplomat said.

Qi Qianjin, the Chinese ambassador to Croatia, told Xinhua News Agency in a recent interview that the bridge is a prominent project for promoting Chinese equipment, technology and knowhow in the construction industry in Croatia and globally.

Qi added that the bridge, which is the largest infrastructure project undertaken so far by China in Croatia, is a symbol of good cooperation between China and Europe.

The bridge connects the Croatian mainland with the Peljesac Peninsula of its southernmost Dubrovnik-Neretva County, bypassing a short strip of land belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and giving Croatia its long-awaited territorial integrity and improved access to the area.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the 2.4-kilometer-long bridge, along with access roads, cost 525 million euros ($538 million), of which 357 million euros was in grants from European Union funds.

A Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corp won the bid to build the Peljesac Bridge and its access roads in 2018. Construction of the bridge started in July 2018 and was completed on time, despite the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qi said that the project greatly contributed to economic growth in Croatia and more broadly in Europe, as it employed over 250 local people, while it also helped to cultivate engineering, technical and management skills, thus effectively driving the development of local enterprises and promoting Croatia's economic and social development.

A total of 18 design and consulting enterprises and 45 construction companies in the EU, as well as 112 global equipment and material suppliers, participated in the project.

Chinese enterprises strictly followed relevant environmental protection regulations of the EU and Croatia to minimize the impact of the project on the surrounding environment, he added.

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