ZAGREB, Oct 22 (Croatia Sun News) – The excavation of a second tunnel through Mount Ucka for the project of upgrading the existing motorway will start next year, the Zagreb-based Vecernji List daily newspaper reports.
This is part of Croatia’s plan to invest HRK two billion in the safety of tunnels, as required by European Union regulations.
The plan for improving the state of affairs in the transport system has ensued after Zagreb recently received a letter of formal notice from Brussels concerning the safety requirements for tunnels.
These letters, which are the first step in the three-step infringement procedure, were recently also sent to Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain for not complying with the Directive setting out minimum safety measures relating to the infrastructure and operation of tunnels. The warning applies to all tunnels in the trans-European road network, with lengths of over 500 metres.
The requirements from the directive refer to 34 tunnels within Croatia’s motorways managed by the companies: Hrvatske autoceste (HAC), Autocesta Rijeka-Zagreb (ARZ), Bina Istra, Autoceste Zagreb Macelj and the Croatian road operator called Hrvatske ceste (HC).
For the implementation of the directive on all the pertaining motorways, it is necessary to invest about two billion kuna. The bulk of it, that is HRK 1.5 billion, should be set aside for digging the other tube through Mount Ucka. The existing toll tunnel on the A8 motorway in Croatia is part of the Istrian Y network operated by Bina Istra.
Besides, some of the tunnels within the motorway operated by the Autoceste Zagreb Macelj are to be expanded, and 500 million kuna will be needed for that project.
Other adjustments in tunnels along motorways are small projects for which HRK 60 million is going to be spent.
The EU infringement procedure includes three steps: sending a letter of formal notice, sending a reasoned opinion and, if the Commission is not satisfied, referring the case to the Court of the EU.
EU minimum safety requirements for tunnels ensure that they are adequate for the volume of traffic and have emergency exits to prevent them from becoming death traps in an accident.
The Croatian transport ministry has prepared an answer to the European Commission with explanations and detailed descriptions of projects aimed at upgrading tunnel safety.
(€ 1 = HRK 7.4)