Construction works on the interstate bridge between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, as one of the most important projects on the River Sava, were formally ushered in with a ceremony on Friday, 11 October 2019. The new bridge, which will take 30 months to complete, will provide a vital transport link not just between BiH and Croatia, but also between BiH and the wider European motorway network.
European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Violeta Bulc emphasised the advantages that this projects brings to citizens, the economy, as well as the whole region of the Western Balkans, but also the European Union. She stressed that it is an important cooperation project within the Connectivity Agenda in the area of transport and connectivity, with the aim of improving infrastructural links in teh Western Balkans, as well as its links with the European Union.
“Better connectivity boosts economic growth and with it come new jobs, and in that way the competitiveness of the country increases. BiH has great benefits from the Connectivity Agenda, for which the European Union has approved over 215 million euros in grants for 13 projects in the transport sector”, emphasised Violeta Bulc.
Construction of the new bridge in Gradiška is being co-funded by the European Union with more than €6.8 million in grants, along with a loan of over €10 million from the European Investment Bank and funds provided by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
Ambassador Johann Sattler, Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that this bridge will mean the creation of new jobs, easing of movement for over half a million people and a boost for regional trade, adding: “The EU has so far allocated €880 million in grants for infrastructural projects for the whole region. Over a quarter of these funds goes to BiH, which contradicts the cliché that BIH is always in last place. In this regard, BiH is a frontrunner.“
The Gradiška Bridge means opening up 300 new jobs and reducing waiting times at the border from hours to two to five minutes. The bridge will be 430 metres long and will have four traffic lanes – two from every direction each, 3.75 metres wide.
“The EU provides opportunities that are needed not only for communication but also for development of our economy, segments of our society and we will not give up on that”, observed Milorad Dodik, Member of the BiH Presidency, at the ceremony marking the beginning of works.
This project is an important step towards the integration of the Western Balkans within the overall Connectivity Agenda, set in motion by the European Commission in 2015, and is in line with the European Commission Strategy on the Western Balkans.
The European Union is funding thirteen large transport projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including also construction of the Svilaj Bridge which will soon open for traffic.