The Fast Road to Medjugorje – Independence Roadtrip

Bosnia steals a march on some of its Balkan neighbours by linking to the European motorway network, at least in part.

Also, toll charges should fall says the French Competition Authority. Hungarian police stop a 22 year old unlicenced driver at the wheel of a 40 tonne truck. Rogue traffic cops are being brought to book in Denmark.

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THE FAST ROAD TO MEDJUGORJE

Bosnia linked to European road network for the first time.

Corridor 5c to Medjugorje. Photo via JPAutoceste.ba

Corridor 5c to Medjugorje. Photo via JPAutoceste.ba

It might be only 10km long but the brand new stretch of motorway from the Croatian border to Medjugorje means a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina is connected to the European road network for the first time.

That’s more than you can say for Balkan neighbours like Romania and Bulgaria, see below.

Since 1981 when a group of teenagers claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary, Medjugorje has grown to be Europe’s third biggest Catholic pilgrimage site, after the Vatican and Lourdes, with more than a million visitors each year.

It’s situated in the majority ethnic-Croatian Herzegovina region of southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, just a few miles north from the port of Ploce, between Split and Dubrovnik, and connects directly to the Croatian A1.

The new road forms the southernmost part of Corridor 5c which will run between Budapest and the Adriatic.

Progress on 5c has been slow but determined in Bosnia since it was the subject of an infamous US government Wikileaks cable in 2010 ‘The Road Not Travelled’.

Currently just 60km is open between Sarajevo and Zenica in the north of the country. However the section between Sarajevo and Tarcin to the southwest is about to open while several other tunnels in the north have been finished recently, on time and on budget.

The work is financed mainly by loans from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Suddenly the finish date of 2020 for the entire 335km length through Bosnia, confirmed yesterday, looks realistic.

The respective presidents of Bosnian-entity Republika Srpska and Serbia met recently to discuss 5c on their territory.

Meanwhile, work on Romania’s motorway network has ground to halt in every sense. While the (otherwise impressive) government dithers about its priorities, the vital missing link on the Orastie-Sibiu highway, in the west, remains unfinished. According to Romania-Insider, the supplier is unpaid and buildings permits have not been issued. PM Ponta insists the road will open on time in November. A similar situation has arisen in Bulgaria with no work apparently on-going on the southernmost section of the Struma Highway, down to the Greek border from capital Sofia. The government is threatening to cancel the contract. The road is also said to be 3-4 months from completion. The deadlines are important because meeting them depends on Bulgaria’s ability to take up European funds.

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Pepe from Catalonia who’s driven from Barcelona to George Square, Glasgow with two pals for Scotland’s #Indyref

Pep Pladeveya sits inside his Seat 600 painted in Catalan national colours in George Square, Glasgow, last night. Pladeveya is one of a group of firemen to make the 2,000km drive from Gerona in north east Spain. ‘We’ve come to help the Scots and to tell the world that we Catalans want to vote. We live in a dictatorship and we want to vote like in Scotland,’ he told AFP. Photo @JamesMatthewSky

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roundup: FRANCE. The profits of highway operators are ‘excessive’ says the national Competition Authority (French only) in a new report, and must be regulated more in favour of the state and users. Noting that revenues continued throughout the financial crisis even as traffic declined, the report makes thirteen recommendations in all, including that the formula for calculating tolls should be based on traffic levels rather than index-linked, guaranteed increases. Thelocal.fr adds that things are unlikely to change until 2027 at the earliest however due to the terms of contracts negotiated in 2002, and that this is the second time an official report has called for tolls to be cut. It currently costs €82.10 in toll fees to drive one-way Calais-Avignon according to mappy.comHUNGARY. A 22 year old man, unlicenced, was topped at the wheel of a 40 tonne truck during the recent TISPOL seatbelt campaign. Police describe the case as ‘unprecedented’. He was working for a subcontractor to a hypermarket group. He was however wearing a seatbelt. DENMARK. Ten foreign drivers from six European countries have allegedly fallen victim to a rogue traffic cop who took a patrol car out of hours and pocketed on-the-spot fines. A second officer has also been charged with a similar offence says Copenhagen Post. The incidents all occurred on Zealand island near Copenhagen earlier this year.

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Meanwhile, it's fifty years to the day that Goldfinger went on general release in the UK.

Meanwhile, it’s fifty years to the day that Goldfinger went on general release in the UK. Here Sean Connery sits on the Furka Pass above Realp in south central Switzerland.

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Latest Crossing the Channel special offers: bikers heading for the Magny Cours Superbike festival in October can cross with MyFerryLink Dover-Calais from £35 each way. Book a short break with P&O Dover-Calais by this Thursday – 18 September – for travel before 17 October and get a free £5 beauty voucher and three day returns at £48, or five day returns for £56 (offer code 5BTVCH).

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