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