Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trogir, Čiovo and Split – The Bridge Is Finally Open!

Čiovo Bridge © Jane Cody & Croatia Online

The next few postings were supposed to be about my exploits in Lošinj, under the gentle guidance of  The Croatian Language School , and they will be. However this is an extremely auspicious day for the inhabitants of Croatia’s island of Čiovo so I couldn’t let it go unmarked.

I used to be one myself (an inhabitant of Čiovo that is) and, for one main reason, we used to dread the tourist invasion in the summer. We could walk over the two bridges to the part of Trogir that is on the mainland, in about ten minutes but, in the summer, if you timed it wrong and people were heading to, or back, from Čiovo’s beaches, the trip by car could take a couple of hours. Even outside the summer, if your car trip coincided with workers going in and out of Trogir’s shipyard, with its entrance on Čiovo island, it could still take a while.

Back in the early noughties, there was just one narrow, paved, single lane carriageway over the bridge from Čiovo island onto Trogir island and then another one onto the mainland. It was a pretty hazardous trip for pedestrians and drivers alike, with confusing priorities, which didn’t help the traffic flow, and very narrow pavements which didn’t help the people flow. In fact it was finally a nasty accident that, I think, encouraged the speedy construction of a pedestrian only bridge by the market.

We used to laugh in those very early days (around 2005 I think) when a visionary called Blagaić put an article in Slobodna Dalmacija suggesting that a new bridge from Čiovo to Split could help transform Slatine (at the Split end of Čiovo island) into a Croatian Manhattan Island. Well he might just be proved right now.

Certainly the new bridge should help a lot to take the pressure off the traffic through Trogir and what a bonus for those who can see Split just across the water but used to have to go north west all the way to Trogir to get to the mainland, only to double back on themselves and head south east to Split.

The photo above was taken a couple of years ago when I was visiting friends in Slatine. They certainly deserve a bit of a bonus after all the building works – not only has the bridge building been going on for a while but there’s been another long construction project, to link most of the houses on Čiovo to a mains sewage system, which has involved substantial road diversions around the back and up the narrow spine of the island. What with stops and starts, for various reasons, and the fact that not much construction happens in the tourist season, both projects have taken  a few years and I must say I rather doubted the bridge project would start, let alone finish, challenging as the tendering and construction problems have been. I understand, though, that the EU has helped keep things going, threatening to stop funding unless the various deadlines were met, and the work shifts were increased so that work was going on 24 hours a day.

Whatever the challenges, it’s a great accomplishment and I suppose it will be the massive Pelješac bridge next!

Croatia Online - Trogir Bridge Sign © Jane Cody & Croatia Online

The image above details EU funding for the bridge, or at least two of the phases – I saw a lot of these signs on my travels round Croatia in 2016 but not many for amounts as big as this. I’m sure the project over ran its budget considerably, what with all the delays, etc, but, according to the sign, the total project cost was 207 milllion kunas, of which 85 % was funded by the EU.

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