On February 20th the traffic through the longest road tunnel Zheleznitsa of Struma Motorway will be launched

16.02.2024 18:26
On February 20th the traffic through the longest road tunnel Zheleznitsa of Struma Motorway will be launched

On February 20, 2024 the traffic through the Zheleznitsa tunnel of Struma Motorway will be launched. The facility is about 2 km long and is the longest road tunnel ever built in the country. Together with the sections before and after the tunnel, 5 km of motorway are put into operation.

The tunnel has two separate traffic tubes. The length of each is about 2 km. The facility has all safety systems, energy efficient lighting, ventilation, CCTV, fire alarm, intelligent traffic management system, emergency SOS booths, electronic access control system etc. Between the pipes there are four cross-connections for pedestrians and two more for cars, where ambulances, fire brigades and other specialized machinery can pass. In the event of an accident or closure of one of the tubes, they will be used to safely remove passengers. A service road was also built at the southern portal of the tunnel from Simitli, a helicopter pad, two bridges over the Suha River, a retaining wall, etc.

The tunnel was built using a new Austrian method. About one and a half metres of each pipe were dug per day and then the primary lining of the facility was immediately constructed with fasteners, sprayed concrete and anchors. Following the traditions in tunnel construction four icons of St. Ivan Rilski , were built in. Images of the saint are placed at the beginning and at the end of the two pipes of the facility. Currently, the holy images are not visible as they were covered when the secondary lining of the facility was constructed. The belief when the icons were built in was that they protected the workers during construction on the site, and then all the commuters.

During the construction of the bridge structure over the Struma River before Zheleznitsa, the technology of ‘stroke pushing’ of the reinforced concrete structure was used for the first time in Bulgaria. Its implementation facilitated the passage of the section over 6 obstacles - the  Struma river , road I-1 Sofia - Kulata, the railway line Sofia - Kulata, the municipal road Blagoevgrad - Simitli and a service road to the northern portal, without restricting the intensive traffic on road E-79 during the construction. The characteristic feature of this innovative technology is that a work platform is used to manufacture the individual elements, which are lifted and pushed forward by a hydraulic system, each element being mounted in front of the finished one. The viaduct has two separate structures for both directions of traffic. The canvas for Kulata is 510 m long and for Sofia - 560 m. The height of the bridge is between 10 m and 18 m and the distance between the columns is from 45 to 60 m.

Struma Motorway is the first infrastructure site where a helipad has been built. It is about 410 m from the southern portal of the tunnel, travelling from Blagoevgrad to Kulata and 40 m from the I-1 road (E-79). The facility can be reached from the first-class road, turning off at the junction for the village of. Zheleznitsa as well as from the new section of the motorway. The playground is asphalt concrete and measures 40 m by 40 m. It is located at an altitude of 315 metres above sea level and the wind speed in the area - the so-called 'wind rose' in meteorology - was taken into account when determining its exact location. The facility has CCTV and all the necessary security and communication systems, fire alarms, etc. that are part of the Zheleznitsa Tunnel safety systems. Medical helicopters up to 3,750 tonnes will be able to take off and land on the helipad. The maximum weight of one medical air ambulance together with equipment, fuel and crew is about 3,175 tons. The helipad will also be used by helicopters of state institutions - the Air Force for rescue operations in severe or mass accidents, the mountain rescue service and others.

Zheleznitsa Tunnel was built by the Consortium AM STRUMA TUNNEL 2018, which includes: G P GROUP JSC, GLOBAL CONSTRUCTION OOD and VIA PLAN EOOD. The value of the contract is BGN 215 362 525,40 excluding VAT. The construction supervision is the responsibility of Plan Invest Zheleznitsa DZZD. The association includes: PLAN INVEST PLOVDIV, INFRA PROJECT CONSULT EOOD, Ascos 03 EOOD, SEARCH CORPORATION SRL. The value of the contract is BGN 3 994 440 excluding VAT.

The section before the tunnel, travelling from Sofia to Kulata, with a length of 720 m together with the tunnel service road at the northern portal and a bridge structure, was built by DZZD Zheleznitsa - Sever, which includes: GBS Infrastructure Construction AD, Glavbolgarstroy AD and Glavbolgarstroy International EAD. The value of the contract is BGN 29 985 345 excluding VAT. The construction supervision was carried out by DZZD TES Consult, which includes: STROL 1000 AD, TRI-ES EOOD and EXPERT DECISIONS OOD. Their contract is for BGN 599 783 excluding VAT.

The section after the tunnel has a length of 1.4 km and along its route an agricultural underpass, a retaining and reinforcing wall, drainage facilities, engineering networks, etc. have been built and reconstructed. The contractor is PST GROUP EAD. The value of the contract is BGN 26 968 888.02 excluding VAT, together with an additional agreement for the strengthening of the registered landslide. The construction supervision is of the State Construction Company DZZD PATCONSULT 2000-CONSULT 64, which includes: PATCONSULT 2000 EOOD and CONSULT 64 EOOD. Their contract is for BGN 645,291.00 excluding VAT, together with the additional agreement for strengthening the registered landslide.

The project is co-financed by the Cohesion Fund of the European Union and the national budget through OP Transport and Transport Infrastructure 2014-2020.

The Struma Motorway is part of the Orient/East Mediterranean Corridor, connecting Vidin with Kulata, and carries road traffic to Greece. The route is used as the shortest route between Western Europe, Central Europe and the White Sea and also as Europe's link to Asia.


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