A 14km stretch of the Struma Motorway, part of Pan-European Corridor IV and that when complete in full will link Bulgaria’s capital city and the border with Greece, was officially opened on July 23.
The stretch is between the village of Dolna Dikanya and the Dupnitsa North road junction and is part of Lot 1 of the Struma Motorway, from the junction at Pernik to Dupnitsa North. The opening of the new section cuts travelling time to the Greek border by about 30 minutes.
On paper at least, Lot 1 is intended for completion in August 2013. The section opened on July 23 was meant to be 17km, but three km remain unfinished, and the decision to open the stretch was taken to ease road traffic pressure between destinations in Bulgaria and Greece during the peak of the summer holiday season.
The opening of the new stretch means that road travel between Sofia and Dupnitsa will be solely by motorway, which authorities hope will mean a reduction in the previous high accident rate on the old road to Dupnitsa.
The section of motorway includes four bridges, seven underpasses, six overpasses and a viaduct, with tunnels designed to enable bears to cross without getting on to the motorway.
When completed, Struma Motorway will be about 150km. About 33km have been completed.
Lot 3, Blagoevgrad – Sandanski, expected to be the most expensive and difficult part of the project, is to completed some time in the 2014-2020 financial period. In all, the motorway is estimated to have a cost of 1.2 billion euro.