By Adnan Prekic – Montenegro
Highway from Montenegro to Serbia is one of the most important planned infrastructure facilities. Yet there is more and more of those who believe that instead of the highway Bar-Boljari focus should be on building the Adriatic-Ionian highway. This highway is much cheaper than towards Serbia and simultaneously would be linked to an international network of highways which guarantees the economic viability of the project.
Adriatic-Ionian highway was conceived as the shortest connection of western and southern Europe. This road will connect Montenegro with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The total length of the Adriatic-Ionian highway on Montenegrin territory is about 95 kilometers, or six percent of the total length. About 36 or more than a third of the route is located on the territory of Podgorica. The analysis of the Montenegrin Ministry of Sustainable Development states that the Adriatic-Ionian highway will have multiple effects on the strengthening of the economy of Montenegro.
The total cost of building 95 kilometers of the Adriatic-Ionian highway through Montenegro would cost more than a billion euros, which is much cheaper than the highway to Serbia. The highway from Bar to Boljari is 169.2 kilometers long. This will be one of the most expensive highways per km in Europe, because tunnels, bridges and viaducts make up over 40% of the total length. This highway construction is the greatest engineering construction project in Montenegro and one of the biggest projects being implemented in the European market. The route will require the construction of 42 tunnels, 92 bridges and viaducts. The average daily, or annual traffic on the existing road from Bar to the border with Serbia, in certain sections ranges from 5,100 to 8,300 vehicles with distinct seasonal annual intensity that reaches up to 20,000 vehicles.
After 15 months of negotiations, in February this year the Government of Montenegro signed the contract to build the highway, with the Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation. The project will be financed by China EXIM Bank and the works will start in less than two months. Montenegro is the only country in the region that does not have a single kilometer of highway. In October 2009, Prime Ministers of Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia had cut the red ribbon and symbolically marked the start of the construction work on the highway. The job was given to the Croatian company ‘KONSTRUKTOR’, but the deal fell through because the Croatian company failed to provide with a bank guarantee to start with the work. Due to the economic crisis, the construction of the highway remained a few years on hold, until last year, when the Chinese appeared.
Adriatic-Ionian road direction is an old idea on linking the land along the shores of the two seas. The total planned length of this highway is about 1,500 kilometers, of which five passes through Italy, Slovenia 55, Croatia 530, Bosnia and Herzegovina 80 kilometers, and through Montenegro 95 kilometers. Through Albania would go 350, and Greece 480 km of road.