BELGRADE, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — A new railway and road bridge across the Danube River funded by Serbia and the European Union (EU) was ceremonially opened on Saturday in the city of Novi Sad by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and European Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations and Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn.
The opening of the new structure was at the same location where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) destroyed the “Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity” (Also known as Zezelj’s bridge) during the bombing campaign in 1999. The ceremony was also attended by Zorana Mihajlovic, minister of construction, transport and infrastructure, Mayor of Novi Sad Milos Vucevic, Prime Minister of Vojvodina province Igor Mirovic, and numerous leaders of public companies.
According to the press release of the president’s cabinet, Vucic said that “bridges emerge where people’s needs intertwine”, while this bridge takes Serbia in the era of high-speed trains, where “no obstacles are insurmountable”.
The new 474-meter-long and 31.45-meter-wide steel arch bridge for railway and road transport, a part of the railway Corridor 10 and the future Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway has two rail tracks, two road strips and a pedestrian path.
The bridge allows a speed of 160 kilometers per hour for passenger and 120 kilometers per hour for freight trains, and 80 to 100 kilometers per hour for motor vehicles.
One of the pillars from the old bridge was reused to support the new steel structure.
The construction of the bridge cost 54 million euros (63 million U.S. dollars), of which the EU allocated 25 million euros, Serbia’s province of Vojvodina and the city of Novi Sad allocated 25 million euros, while the state allocated the remaining four million euros.
Hahn interpreted the bridge as a symbol of Serbia’s European integration, explaining that the process is about “building bridges between citizens, people, the past and the future”.
According to him, the bridge is the key link of the trans-European rail network and will allow navigation along the Novi Sad section of the Danube river, while at the same time restoring the full capacity of road and rail transport.
“This beautiful bridge connects your city with the other bank of the river, but also your country with the EU, your European family”, Han pointed out. (1 euro = 1.16 U.S. dollars)