The Pelješac Bridge, recently built in Croatia, is an important piece of infrastructure for the country. With a length of 2.4 kilometers, the bridge spans the Adriatic Sea and provides a faster and more efficient transportation route than going through the Neum corridor in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite its value for Croatia, the construction of the bridge has faced controversy due to tensions with neighboring Bosnia, which has led to delays and disputes.
Where is the Pelješac Bridge located?
The Pelješac Bridge is located in southern Croatia, spanning the Adriatic Sea and connecting the Pelješac Peninsula to the mainland near the town of Komarna.
The bridge provides access to the Dubrovnik-Neretva County and is an essential link for the residents and tourists wanting to join mainland Croatia without driving through Bosnia and Herzegovina and going through two border controls.
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General information about the road over Bosnia:
Pelješac Bridge is an impressive feat of engineering that spans 2.4 km (1.5 mi) and features 13 pillars. Each of them is over 100 meters (330 ft) high. The distance between each pillar is 170 meters, and the bridge reaches a height of 35 meters (115 ft) in the middle. The completed bridge provides an important connection between the Croatian mainland and the Pelješac peninsula. Indeed, it offers a more convenient and faster travel option for locals and tourists alike.
Despite the initial cost estimate of between 250-300 million Euros, the Pelješac Bridge project incurred higher costs. The European Union contributed 357 million Euros and the European Investment Bank provided a loan, making it one of the largest EU-funded projects. The total cost ended up being 525 million Euros, but Croatia’s authorities described the project as being “not a luxury, but a necessity” for the country. This road over Bosnia was undertaken by a Chinese construction company.
Regardless of the cost of construction, crossing the bridge is totally free without any toll.
Why was the Pelješac Bridge built ?
The Pelješac Bridge was built to connect the Dubrovnik-Neretva County to the rest of the country, bypassing a short stretch of Bosnian coastline that cuts into Croatian territorial waters. This became necessary when Bosnia and Herzegovina gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1992 and became a sovereign state with its own stretch of coastline. This 8.5 km (5.2 mi) stretch of coastline known as the Neum passage cut Croatia in two.
As a result, Croatia was left with a small strip of land that was not connected to the rest of the country. The only way to access it is by crossing through Bosnian territory. That led people wanting to go from one side to another to go through two border controls. This lead to a traffic issue, especially in summer when a lot of tourists are in the area.
When did the Pelješac Bridge open ?
The bridge to avoid Bosnia opened to traffic in July 2022, however, heavy trucks will not be allowed to access the bridge until additional road infrastructure on the Pelješac peninsula is completed by 2023. The Pelješac Bridge is one of the reasons why Croatia was able to join the Schengen zone in 2023.
The idea for the Pelješac Bridge originated in the 1990s. However, the project faced many delays due to financial and political reasons. With Croatia joining the EU in 2013, border checks became stricter, and the bridge was considered an alternative to traveling through the Neum Corridor. Finally, in 2018, construction began on the bridge, and it opened 4 years later in 2022.
However, the bridge has become controversial for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Indeed, the country fears that the bridge might block the Neum Corridor, and Bosnia’s access to the sea. Moreover, the corridor is Bosnia’s only way to access international waters. The construction of this bridge could potentially block Bosnia from accessing the Mediterranean Sea, which would be a violation of their right to access open seas.
Why is it called the Pelješac Bridge ?
The bridge is named after the Pelješac Peninsula. It is a narrow strip of land in southern Croatia that juts out into the Adriatic Sea. This link connects the southern Croatian mainland with the Pelješac Peninsula, spanning the Mali Ston Bay, thus allowing for much faster travel between the mainland and the exclave where Dubrovnik is located.
How to get to Pelješac Bridge ?
To get to the bridge, you will be either coming north from mainland Croatia or south from Dubrovnik.
From the north, follow the D8 state road, heading south towards Dubrovnik. When approaching the Neum Corridor in Komarna, follow the blue signs to Dubrovnik/Ston to join the D674. The road is pretty straightforward, and it is not easy to miss it.
From Dubrovnik, head north on the D8 highway and join the D674 after the town of Doli.
You can have a preview of the itinerary on the map below :
Is the bridge avoiding Bosnia open?
The Pelješac Bridge is open all year round and is not subject to closures. Although, heavy traffic can’t cross the bridge as of today (early 2023) due to the road infrastructure still under construction on the Pelješac peninsula.
Preview of the road :
Get ready for a scenic drive on the recent Pelješac Bridge, the longest bridge in Croatia, spanning 2.4 kilometers. To get a glimpse of the drive and plan your itinerary, check out this YouTube video:
To summarize, the Pelješac Bridge is an important addition to Croatia’s road network as well as an impressive engineering feat. It is the longest bridge in the country and provides a scenic view of the Adriatic Sea. Despite tensions with Bosnia over the construction of the bridge, the bridge is a must-see for both tourists and locals. If you’re planning a trip to Croatia, don’t forget to include a stop at the Pelješac Bridge on your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.
Credits: By Ponor – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=119410190 / By ModriDirkac – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34235730
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