A new project for repair and stabilisation of bridges in Macedonia is underway, with financial support from NATO. The contractor is a Turkish firm, CESAS.
Fifty bridges are being renovated. The first phase, due for completion this year, covers 29 bridges in the border area with Greece. Another 21, located in other areas, will be repaired during the second phase.
Not only will damage sustained over the years be fixed, but the bridges will be enabled to withstand twice their current capacity. According to civil engineering expert Goran Markovski, the state will not have to make any additional changes for the next 50 years.
The projects will contribute to establishing a sound road infrastructure, boosting Macedonia’s capacity to join the European road network, said Transport and Communication Minister Mile Janakievski.
The bridges — built in the 1960s with outdated methods and materials — were in poor condition. The supporting pillars were severely damaged, and the pavement was in disrepair. NATO is funding the project because it has been a major user of Macedonian roads towards Kosovo over the past eight years.
Out of the 29 bridges targeted in phase one, repairs are complete on nine. Eight others are in the final stages of renovation, and the rest will be finished by December.
CESAS says it is pleased with the progress so far. According to the contractor, if the pace can be maintained, the work could be completed even before December. Local drivers, though, are impatient. For the time being, traffic on the Skopje-Veles Highway has been reduced from two lanes to one, resulting in a few car accidents.
It is not the first time that NATO has assisted the reconstruction of roads in Macedonia. In 2003, the Alliance donated 3m euros for repair of the road from Kumanovo to the border with Bulgaria, two bridges on the border with Serbia, and a bridge near Demir Kapija.