By the end of the year, the design for the construction of lot 3 of the Struma highway in the section from Blagoevgrad to Sandanski should be completed, the National Company for Strategic Infrastructure Projects (NCSIP) told Monitor.
The project will include two tunnels - the largest in the Kresna Gorge, 15.5 km long, and the second, north of the village of Zheleznitsa - 2 km. The project documentation is in the process of review and approval by NCSIP. This will allow the start of procedures for awarding the construction of the road section in the summer.
Contracts with selected contractors can be signed in the first half of 2015. Tunnels are more complex facilities and tenders for them may begin early next year.
The eligibility criteria for the selection of a contractor are defined jointly with the strategic advisor for the project and include requirements for a minimum turnover from construction activities and specific experience in the implementation of such projects.
Geological surveys are already being worked on along the route. Road safety audits, updating of the project studies and preparation of an application form, updating of the impact assessment are forthcoming.
The results of the geological surveys of the route between Blagoevgrad and Sandanski will be transmitted in parts. From geological mapping they will be ready in July, from geophysical surveys - in August, from geotechnical (drilling and laboratory research) - in December. After analyzing the data in early 2015, additional geotechnical surveys will be performed.
Two months ago, the construction industry demanded a review of the project for Lot 3 of Struma through the Kresna Gorge, proposing to build in this section not a highway, but to modernize and expand the existing first-class road to a four-lane highway.
A similar conceptual design in 2001 was prepared by the Italian consortium SPEA. There is already a project approved by Brussels for the section through Kresna, from where the funds should be allocated, and according to experts, such changes could lead to its failure.