ZAGREB, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Croatian state-owned highway operator Hrvatske Ceste (HC) handed over documents of Peljesac Bridge to Chinese contractors in the city of Ston in southern Croatia on Monday, marking the beginning of the 36-month construction period of the strategic infrastructure project.
A Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) won the bid for the first phase of the Peljesac Bridge and its access roads in January.
Crossing the Mali Ston Bay over the Adriatic Sea, the bridge connects the southernmost Dubrovnik-Neretva County to the rest of the mainland, giving Croatia a land link bypassing territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
According to Josip Skoric, CEO of HC, construction equipment should be in place by late August or early September, and geological survey will be done first to decide the locations of the bridge piers.
Lu Shengwei, representative of CRBC in Croatia, told Xinhua that his company is confident that the job can be done with the best quality within 36 months.
CRBC signed the construction contract with HC in April, despite disturbance from competitors who tried several times to question Croatia's decision unsuccessfully.
In an interview with Xinhua after the signing ceremony on April 23, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic reiterated that the bidding had gone through a transparent process in accordance with public procurement procedures of Croatia and EU standards.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Tomislav Mihotic said on Monday that Croatia's interest in the construction of the bridge is to include as many Croatian subcontractors as possible. "We talked about this with the Chinese partner and we hope that Croatian companies will be involved in the construction and in the preparation of the construction site," he said.
A Croatian contractor tried to build the bridge over a decade ago, but had to give up the project due to lack of fund, leaving several unfinished piers in the water.
The four-lane bridge will be 2.4-km long and 55-meter high. The total value of the project is about 420 million euros (510 million U.S. dollars), of which 357 million euros (about 430 million U.S. dollars) will be covered by EU funds.