Montenegro’s first motorway – i8 Louis Vuitton

Chinese companies are financing and building important roads in the Balkans. Jaguar and BMW debut some very smart motoring accessories. Freeloading motorhomers get kicked off their winter pitches in Portugal, a new ring road for Minsk and Luxembourg gets serious about its road safety problem.

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MONTENEGRO’S FIRST MOTORWAY UNDERWAY

Thanks to the Chinese there’s a rush of road building in the west Balkans.

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Contracts to build Montenegro’s first ever motorway were signed in Podgorica yesterday.

Work starts in two months on the section Smokovac (Podgorica)-Mateševo – marked in yellow, above – the highest priority stretch of the 170km Bar-Boljare motorway, from the Adriatic to the Serbian border.

Ultimately the road will connect to Belgrade via Corridor XI, currently under construction in Serbia.

Montenegro might be the last European country to build a motorway but Bar-Boljare will be the most expensive per km. Forty percent of its length is taken up by 42 tunnels and 92 bridges and viaducts.

The 44km first stretch costs €809m, financed by China’s EXIM Bank and built by CRBC (China Road and Bridge Corporation). No finish date has been made public.

Meanwhile, on 22 February, nearby Macedonia turned the first sod on its most ambitious highway project in the past fifty years. The €375m, 60km, three lane road between Kicevo and Ohrid in the south west will take four years to build. The project is also financed by EXIM but built by SinoHydro Corporation.

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Accessories

BMWi8 Louis Vuitton: it must be accessories week. In addition to a new range of Jaguar F-TYPE-inspired driving shoes from Oliver Sweeney – see www.oliversweeney.com – now comes a set of fitted luggage for BMW’s upcoming i8 electric sportscar. Designed by Louis Vuitton, of course. Price on application. Available from select LV stores worldwide from 1 April (before the car itself is available). Fitted luggage is very swish, etc, and space efficient but happens to it when the car is sold on, presuming it won’t ever be part of the deal?

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roundup: PORTUGAL. Motorhomers wintering on the riverside in Silves in the Algarve were evicted by a team of officers last week amid accusations the area was being treated as a ‘public toilet’. The local mayor however has spoken up for the campers who congregate in ‘dozens if not hundreds’ each year. LUXEMBOURG. The cream of the Duchy’s road safety industry met yesterday to discuss ways of reversing the recent slide in crash stats. Harsher penalties, fixed speed cameras and better signage and accident analysis were suggested ahead of final proposals to be published 19 May. BELARUS. The second Minsk ring road will go ahead. ‘The bottom line is we will poison Minskers if we fail to build this highway,’ President Lukashenka said today as increasing east-west transit traffic threatens to clog the capital’s streets. Meanwhile, a renovated four lane 7km section of M6 Poland-Minsk highways opens on 1 September at Shchuchin with the entire road to be reconstructed by 2016 ‘at the latest’.

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