Struma: the modern highway that will connect Bulgaria with Greece

In a couple of years, Bulgaria and Greece will be united in an agile and safe way thanks to the new Struma Highway, designated as A3.

The modern road that is being built parallel to the E-79 Road, will allow the whole region of Central and Eastern Europe to be linked with Greece. In this way, the European continent advances in connections and infrastructure.

The Struma highway runs parallel to the railway and the river that gives it its name. This road will also help the traffic that circulates between Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, and the southwest region of the country.

Struma Highway map
The Struma Highway runs north to south through the Struma River Valley. With the exception of the Lot 3 (between Blagoevgrad and Sandanski), the rest of the highway is in service.

The highway project

The current E-79 road (or European Highway 1) is a conventional road of one lane in each direction. It is a necessary step for the traffic of people and goods that circulate between Sofia or the center of Europe and the neighboring Greece.

The large number of cars and trucks collapse the winding route often. Thus was born a highway project that begins its journey in Sofia and circulates south joining cities such as Pernik, Blagoevgrad, Sandanski, Kulata and ending in Thessaloniki. This road infrastructure work is among the European Union’s Ten-T Priority Projects.

For this reason a highway project was born. The road will start in Sofia and circulate towards the south joining cities such as Pernik, Blagoevgrad, Sandanski and Kulata, to finish in Thessaloniki. This road project is among the European Union Ten-T Program.

E79 Route tunnel
The current E-79 road has a lane in each direction and runs through the winding valley of the Struma River.

The Struma Highway is part of the Pan-European IV Corridor that runs between Miskolc (Hungary) and Thessaloniki (Greece).

This great work is financed mostly by the European Union. In 2012, the European Commission approved a contribution of 274 million euros. The total works will demand 324 million euros.

The Lyulin Motorway was partially financed by the Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA) and the Daskalovo-Dolna Dikanya section received a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Struma Highway near Pernik
Section in service of the Struma highway, near Studena city.

The route begins on the Lyulin Motorway or A6, in the west of Sofia City. From there, it heads south-west towards Pernik, then continues south, passing through the valley of the Struma River.

The length of the highway between Sofia and the border with Greece is about 173,8 kilometers, of which 86,7 are already in service.

Struma Highway has two asphalt lanes in each direction and a total width of 29 meters. It also has two emergency lanes, and a central division of 3,5 meters.

Struma Highway A3, section in service

The whole project is divided into 5 lots that are built in stages.

  • Lot 0 Pernik-Dolna Dikanya,
  • Lot 1  Dolna Dikanya-Dupnitsa,
  • Lot 2  Dupnitsa–Blagoevgrad,
  • Lot 3  Blagoevgrad–Sandanski,
  • Lot 4 Sandanski–Kulata.

The first section, corresponding to lot “0”, was opened on January 31, 2007 to the city of Dolna Dikanya. The construction of lot 1 started in September 2011 and ended in July 2013. While the works of the section corresponding to lot 4 started in April 2012, ending between July and August 2015.

Lot 2, between Dupnitsa and Blagoevgrad, was built between February 2013 and October 2015.

The rugged mountains of the section included in Lot 3 make it the most complex and expensive to build. It was divided into three sub-lots: 3.1 (Blagoevgrad-Krupnik), 3.2 (Krupnik-Kresna or Kresna Gorge) and 3.3 (Kresna-Sandanski).

Struma Highway lot 3.3 under construction, aerial view
Sub-lot 3.3 of the highway under construction, between the towns of Strumyani and Mikrevo.

Struma Highway lot 3.3 Strumyani

Sub-lot 3.1, between the cities of Blagoevgrad and Krupnik, is currently under construction. It is a section of 13 kilometers long and an investment of around 186 million levs (95 million euros).

The design of the Kresna-Sandanski section (sub-lot 3.3) has been signed on September 25, 2015 and is under construction.

Meanwhile, sub-lot 3.2 requires large works, including tunnels and viaducts because the geography of the terrain where the highway will run. Given the natural wealth of the area, the project was designed thinking about the environment and the fauna of the place, including passage points for animals and walls to avoid noise.

This sub-lot will be the last to be completed, in the year 2020. By that time, the Struma Highway will be fully completed and operational, complying with European Union standards and providing an agile and safe connection between Bulgaria and Greece, promoting the development of the continent.

Struma Highway and animal passes
The different wildlife passages: over the highway or below it in the form of bridges and tunnels. (Infography: Sweco.bg)

The following table shows all the exits that the Struma Highway will have and the construction status.

Exit Km Destinations Design Current status
AB-AS-grün.svg AB-AS-blau.svg 19,4 Mw A6 BG.svg, Pernik, Nat road 6 BG.svg  2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 27,2 Studena 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 31,1 Bosnek 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 35,2 Staro Selo 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 37,4 Dolna Dikanya 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 51,5 Dupnitsa-norte 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-Tunnel.svg 56,6 Krushovitsa Tunnel 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 59,4 Dupnitsa-south, Kyustendil 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 73,6 Boboshevo 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-Tunnel.svg 83,3 Kocherinovo Tunnel 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 85,3 Kocherinovo 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 91 Blagoevgrad 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 365,4 Blagoevgrad-south 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg Under construction until 2019
AB-Tunnel.svg 371,2 Zheleznitsa Tunnel 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg Projected
AB-AS-blau.svg 376,4 Simitli, Bansko 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg Under construction until 2019
AB-AS-blau.svg 383,3 Krupnik 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg Under construction until 2019
Lote 3.2 401 Struma Gorge (Krupnik-Kresna) In design
AB-AS-blau.svg Kresna 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In design
AB-AS-blau.svg 405,6 Strumyani 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg Under construction until 2019
AB-AS-blau.svg 416,7 Sandanski 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg Under construction until 2019
AB-AS-blau.svg 157,1 Petrich, Melnik 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 163,2 General Todorov 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 164,8 Marikostinovo 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
AB-AS-blau.svg 167 Petrich 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service
BAB-Grenze.svg 170,5 Kulata border point; Flag of Greece.svg Grecia, Autokinetodromos A25 number.svg Thessaloniki, Athens 2 active lanes and 1 emergency.svg In service

 

News Reporter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *