The secondary cladding is already being laid in the Zheleznitsa tunnel on the Struma motorway
Half of the construction activities in the Zheleznitsa tunnel of the Struma motorway have already been completed. The primary cladding of the facility on the south side reached the 931-st meter in the left and the 838-th meter in the right pipe. 837 m of the right and 838 m of the left pipe have been excavated on the north side. The laying of the secondary cladding of the tunnel has also started.
On the south side the concrete works on the walls and vault in the right pipe reached the 132-nd meter, and on the north side the186-th meter.
The tunnel was built according to a new Austrian method by digging meter and a half to two meters in each pipe and each direction meter per 24 hours, and immediately after that the primary cladding of the facility is laid with fasteners, sprayed concrete and anchors. The construction activities started in October last year and the work on the site is going around the clock and without interruption.
Zheleznitsa is the longest road tunnel ever built in Bulgaria. It will have two separate pipes for traffic in each direction, with the length of each pipe being about 2 km. The facility will have all the necessary systems for energy efficient lighting, ventilation, video surveillance, fire alarm and intelligent traffic management system.
Simultaneously, a bridge along the direct route, passing over the Suha Reka River, a retaining wall at the direct route, another bridge over the Suha Reka River together with a tunnel service at the southern portal of the tunnel from the town of Simitli and a helicopter pad are being built.
Work is also progressing on the viaduct, before Zheleznitsa, in the direction from Sofia to Kulata, as well as on the section after the tunnel. The viaduct has a finished top structure on the road to Sofia. It is built using the "push-pull" technology of the superstructure with hydraulic jacks. The bridge crosses over 6 obstacles: the Struma River, road E79, the existing and future railway line, the municipal road and over the service road of the tunnel. The lane to Sofia is 560 m long, and the lane to Kulata is 510 m. The facility has two bridges for the two lanes, each consisting of 21 segments. Segments are pushed one by one, thus eliminating the need to stop traffic on the road E79 Sofia-Kulata and the railway line. This year the pushing of the lane to Sofia was completed, and in the lane to Kulata the pushing of the first segment is forthcoming.
The project for the construction of the Zheleznitsa tunnel on the Struma motorway is co-financed by the Cohesion Fund of the European Union and the national budget through the OP Transport and Transport Infrastructure 2014-2020.
The work on the preparation for the complete completion of the Struma motorway in the section through the Kresna Gorge continues and the contractors of a nearly 24-kilometer new section in the direction of Kulata - Sofia, which will pass east of the gorge, have already been allocated. It is divided into two lots so that the site can be operated simultaneously. The contractors for lot 3.2.1 and lot 3.2.2 have been selected, but the construction works of the two sites will be able to start after the fulfilment of the commitments made before the European Commission, namely: supplementing the ecological documentation to the specific objectives for the species and habitats subject to protection in the two protected areas of the Natura 2000 network, through which Lot 3.2 of the Struma motorway passes, reducing the pressure of traffic on nature and increasing safety in the section of E-79 through the gorge.
In 2020, the construction of all strategic road projects advanced: the Hemus and Europa motorways, Vidin - Botevgrad, the reconstruction of the Southern Arc of the Sofia Ring Road.
At the beginning of November, the construction of the first 17 km between Dragoman and Slivnitsa of the Europe motorway was completed. A second lane has been built, and the old one has been reconstructed to the size of a motorway. The section has two lanes for directional traffic and an emergency lane. There are two road junctions, as well as 11 large facilities.
The construction of the other 14.5 km section from the Kalotina border checkpoint to Dragoman of the Europe motorway continues. The construction works on it started in February this year and on the contract, schedule should be completed in January 2022. Work is being carried out along the entire length of the route, earth and road works are being carried out, reinforced embankments and fortification walls are being built.
For the third section, from Slivnitsa to the connection with the Northern Speed Tangent, which is 16 km and will pass along a new route, the technical design has been prepared. The detailed development plan is currently being processed and the public procurement procedures for contractor and supervision of the section will be announced next year.
Along the route of the Hemus motorway, the first asphalt layers have already been laid in the section from Boaza to the Dermantsi road junction, at the intersection with the third-class road III-307 Lukovit - Ugarchin. This is section 1, with a length of 15.2 km, from the phased construction of 134 km of the highway between the road junction "Boaza" and the connection with the road I-5 Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo, which started in April 2019. Currently in the section between Boaza and the crossing with the road Pleven - Lovech, which is divided into three sections, excavation and embankment works are being carried out, work is underway on large facilities. The 51.5-kilometer section will have various types of large transport facilities - viaducts, bridges, overpasses and underpasses. In section 2, with a length of 19.2 km, which is from the end of Dermantsi road junction to the connection with road III-3005 Radyuvene - Katunets, including road junction Kalenik, and in section 3, with a length of 17.08 km - from road junction Kalenik to the connection with road II-35 Pleven - Lovech, and road junction Pleven, earthworks and road works, as well as activities for construction of large facilities are carried out.
In the next three sections of road junction Pleven to the crossing with road I-5 Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo preparatory activities are carried out for cleaning the terrain and making temporary roads. For the last three sections of the Hemus motorway - 7, 8 and 9, which are located between the intersection with the road Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo and the Buhovtsi road junction, the research activities for preparation of technical projects continue, according to the agreed deadlines. The construction of a 16.3 km section between the Buhovtsi and Belokopitovo road junctions on the territory of the districts of Shumen and Targovishte is progressing and is expected to be ready by the middle of 2021.
The complete construction of the Hemus motorway by 2024 is a major priority in the Government's Management Program, as the future of Northern Bulgaria and the modernization of the region is related to the construction of the motorway and the provision of fast and safe road communication. The motorway will connect Sofia with Varna and will duplicate the first-class roads E70 from Varna to Shumen, E772 from Shumen to Yablanitsa and E83 from Yablanitsa to Sofia.
The construction of over 128 km has already been assigned for the Vidin - Botevgrad route. Last year, work began on one of the most complex sections - Mezdra - Botevgrad and Vidin - Makresh road junction. In the section of road, I-1 Mezdra - Lyutidol one lane is ready and from the middle of December the traffic in the section goes in both directions with temporary organization and temporary road marking. The construction works continue in parallel in the adjacent lane, as well as along the entire mileage of the site. This year, the state company Avtomagistrali EAD was assigned to build 65.8 km of the route, in the section between the Makresh road junction and the Montana bypass road. It is divided into five sections, with different time terms - from 28 months to 32 months.
Under the contract, the 6-kilometer section of the Southern Arc of the Sofia Ring Road should be ready by the end of 2021, but at the pace at which the builders are working, it is possible that the site will be completed earlier. To facilitate traffic in winter and to increase safety, traffic was allowed on the direct route in two sections of the reconstructed section - 1.7 km between the Mladost and Gorublyane road junctions and 2.5 km from the connection with the Thrace motorway to the German road junction. The traffic has a temporary organization, temporary road markings and in the next year the work will continue with laying of the last asphalt layer and completing all finishing works.