Croatian tunnels on schedule

1 December 2002

Italian contractor Coopcostruttori has started construction of the 5.8km long twin-tube Mala Kapela road tunnel in Croatia, the country's longest road tunnel to be built to date. Mala Kapela is an important link on the southern section of the 375.7km long, multi billion dollar Zagreb to Split motorway, one of Croatia's largest ever infrastructure projects.

The 312.3km long southern section of the motorway from the Bosiljevo Interchange to Split passes through the Dinaride mountain range, consisting of carbonate rock, limestone, dolomites and clastic rock.

There are 12 twin-tube tunnels along the route totalling just over 20.5km (42km in total) in length, ranging from the 171m long Krpani tunnel, to the above mentioned 5.8km long Mala Kapela tunnel. Vital to the infrastructure of the region, this section links the central part of the country to Dalmatia in the south.

Due to the changing geology, the northern-most tunnels are being constructed using NATM, while the southern-most tunnels require excavation of II, III and IV category rock by drill and blast. The contractors will be utilising Tamrock and Atlas Copco boomers with a fleet of Caterpillar machines aiding mucking out.

The second longest tunnel on this route, Sveti Rok, is almost complete, and should be open to traffic in June 2003. The 5.7km twin-tube tunnel was constructed by contractors Konstruktorinzen-jering and Hidroelektraniskogradnja.

Most of the tunnels are scheduled for completion between June 2003 and December 2004. The client, Hrvatske autoceste (Croatian Motorways), is working to a programme that should see the entire length of the motorway opened to traffic by July 2005.

The motorway is being financed mainly by long-term commercial loans from the large international commercial banks. Some of the other funds are coming from the client's own sources, which include toll revenue and fuel tax.

The first 63.4km section between Zagreb, and the Bosiljevo Interchange, near the Slovenia border, is almost complete. There are no tunnels on this section.