TODAY: an 1100km motorway project along the west Balkan coast is likely to get German backing later this week. Rouen’s repaired A28 Pont Mathilde removes a bottleneck through western France, as work starts on the A29 Pont de Normandie in Le Havre.
Also, a horror crash kills three at a hillclimb event in the Pyrenees. A Norwegian trio is to make another attempt on the ‘most countries visited in 24 hours’ record. Galileo hits another snag, as does Finland’s alco-lock scheme, and Latvia’s speed camera project. But Portugal’s speed week nets a considerable number of drivers as does Zurich’s drive-in brothel. Meanwhile, Bosnia opens its longest tunnel and Elon Musk responds to criticism over the lack of Tesla Supercharger coverage in southern and eastern Europe.
ATTENTION TURNS TO ADRIATIC-IONIAN MOTORWAY
Croatian motorway concession deal unlocks West Balkan coast road project.
A meeting of the region’s leaders yesterday ahead of a Balkan Summit later this week in Berlin ended with agreement to press on with the Adriatic-Ionian motorway project.
The 1500km road will run down the west coast of the Balkan Peninsula, from Trieste in north east Italy to the southern Greece, likely at Kalamata, passing through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania.
It would be the shortest connection between western and southern Europe.
‘The Adriatic-Ionian Motorway project is the common interest of four countries which has not been realised yet,’ said Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic.
‘It is important for Croatia as a continuation of a route that connects this region, but it is also important for Montenegro, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for Kosovo too.’
The project has been given extra impetus by Croatia’s recently announced plan to let its motorway network on a 30-50 year concession to help pay off its state road builder’s debts. The millions of extra vehicles using the route each year would significantly increase the deal’s value.
Nearly 90% of the roade is already built in Croatia. Funds to build the remainder, between Rijeka and near Senj in the north, could be released along with the concession deal.
Apart from Slovenia, the other countries would be starting from scratch. At this stage it seems unlikely the complete road will open before 2030.
The Adriatic-Ionian motorway would link with the mostly-complete A1 through northern Albania to Kosovan capital Pristina, and with the imminent Bar-Belgrade highway through Montenegro.
Angela Merkel and other senior German politicians will host the Southeast Europe Summit in Berlin on Thursday. Co-operative projects will be high on the agenda.
Update 28 August: after the meeting European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said, without referring specifically to the Adriatic-Ionian motorway, that infrastructure investment must be speeded up because, ‘there are too many missing links in terms of roads, rail networks, or on the energy grid’ in the Balkans. He also said the EU would ‘continue playing a leading part through targeted financial aid.’ €20bn is available in ‘Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA)’ in the period 2014-2020.
roundup: FRANCE. Three died and ten were injured in a practice crash at the Tillac-Laas Hillclimb on Sunday. The competitor, unhurt, lost control of his Simca 1000 during qualifying. The two day event is held on the D16 between the villages of Laas and Tillac in Gers, south west France, just north of the Pyrenees. DRIVING RECORD. The record-equalling attempt on the ‘most countries visited in 24 hours’ challenge – by a Norwegian trio in May – will be re-run. Travel writer Gunnar Garfors announced earlier today the same team will try again in September/October. He’s on the lookout for more sponsors. They visited 17 countries last time. GALILEO another setback for the EU’s satnav system when the two satellites launched last week – five and six out of thirty planned – failed to achieve the correct orbit. It’s not clear yet whether the trajectories can be corrected. FINLAND. 90% of offenders opt for driving bans rather than the hassle and expense of alco-locks. Drivers convicted of DUI offences have the option of, typically, a twelve month ban or eighteen month ‘supervision’, including paying €3000 for the device which blocks a vehicle’s ignition if a positive breath test is detected. BOSNIA. The country’s longest tunnel open today, the 3km March 1st tunnel on the Zenica-Lasva section of Corridor 5c, along with another 3km of motorway. LATVIA’s speed camera project has hit another snag. After the original system was scrapped in December 2012 this latest attempt to procure a functioning network has been postponed for a second time, until 18 September. Latvia struggles with a high road fatality rate of around 85 deaths per million inhabitants, nearly three times that of best-placed Sweden and UK. Police currently have four handheld radar guns. PORTUGAL. Overall results of last week’s TISPOL-organised pan-European anti-speed week are yet to be published – police collared more than 720,000 drivers last time – but early indications from Portugal suggest the initiative has been a stunning success. Out of 6,600 vehicles subject to radar controls, 3,528 were found to be speeding according to Portugal News. SWITZERLAND. The world’s first drive-in brothel has also been a success says Zurich council. A number of ‘sex boxes’ were set up in Altstetten, west Zurich, last year at a cost of €2m.
GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: quiet overnight. Max 1h15 delay today, at lunchtime.