The start of construction of the 2.4 kilometre long Zenica Tunnel on one of the most challenging sections of Corridor Vc in Bosnia and Herzegovina was officially marked today at the Ponirak-Vraca subsection near Zenica. In addition to subsection Ponirak-Vraca/Zenica Tunnel, construction works will be carried on the subsection Zenica Tunnel/Donja Gračanica – involving the construction of twin tunnels, four viaducts and an interchange to Zenica North with pay-toll facilities, including 7 km of new motorway.
The construction of these two subsections will be co-funded by the European Union with over 31 million euro in grants, in addition to financing provided by the European Investment Bank (for the subsection Ponirak-Vraca/Zenica Tunnel) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (for the subsection Zenica Tunnel-Donja Gračanica) complementing funds provided by Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Head of the Delegation of the European Union and EU Special Representative in BiH Ambassador Johann Sattler, underlined that projects such as this are moving things forward and delivering benefits to the citizens of the country. “This project will decrease travel times, increase transport security in line with EU standards, and decrease the level of air pollution” said Sattler and added “this section is part of a much larger story; the story of the connection of BiH to the wider region and the European Union within the Connectivity Agenda”.
During the official ceremony, Director of Autoceste FBiH Adnan Terzić, Minister of Transport and Communication of FBiH Denis Lasić, President of FBiH Marinko Čavara, representative of the EIB for BiH Sandrine Friscia and the Director of the EBRD Office in BiH Manuela Naessl, also highlighted the significance of Corridor Vc to all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region.
The event was attended also by some 30 students and professors of the Polytechnic Faculty in Zenica. Ahmed Drijenčić, a third year student at the Faculty of Polytechnic of the University of Zenica said: “I look forward to attending such a significant event that is an ideal opportunity for me to connect theory and practice and transfer knowledge from experienced professionals to young engineers. Projects like this confirm that I made a good decision in choosing my future profession“.
The longest section, 335 km of Corridor Vc lies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and, so far, 176 kilometres have been completed or are currently being finalised. Recognising the need to support BiH in this significant and expensive project, the European Union secured more than 200 million euro in grants through the Western Balkans Investment Framework – WBIF. This funding will facilitate construction of thirteen main projects, including the motorway on Corridor Vc and the works on the Gradiška and Svilaj bridges.
The support of the European Union contributes to the realisation of the priorities of the Connectivity Agenda with the main focus on preparation and financing of regional infrastructural investment projects, and on the implementation of technical standards and reform measures, such as the simplification of cross border procedures, reform of railways and road safety.