Bechtel ENKA Joint Venture has been selected by the government of Serbia to build the country’s first 5G-ready motorway in the West Morava river valley. The 112-kilometer (70-mile) dual carriageway will be the second major transport artery in Serbia, connecting communities and businesses from Pojate in the east to Preljina in the west, and linking the country’s North-South motorway to the Hungarian and North Macedonian borders.
The Bechtel ENKA team will also build a major flood defense system to protect the areas around the motorway from flooding, erosion and subsequent water pollution. This will be the first flood mitigation system of this scale to be built alongside a motorway in the Balkans, reflecting the Serbian government’s commitment to strengthening the national infrastructure’s resilience against extreme weather conditions. Together, the projects are expected to create around 10,000 jobs during construction, including 4,000 at peak.
Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Professor Zorana Mihajlovic, PhD, said: “Construction of Moravian Corridor is in Serbia's economic interest not only because it will connect more than half a million citizens living in the area, but because it will be the link for more than 20,000 small and medium-sized enterprises with the largest traffic corridors: Corridor X, which connects us with Bulgaria and North Macedonia, and Highway Milos the Great towards Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The motorway forms part of a wider regional transport plan to improve trade links throughout the Balkans and build economic ties to Western Europe. It will link with Corridors X and XI, which run to Austria and Greece by way of Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia; and to Italy and Romania by way of Montenegro.
Due to the mountainous terrain of the area, the route is expected to include 40 bridges – the longest measuring about 600 meters (three-tenths of a mile). A telecommunication corridor will be built beneath the side of the motorway to allow for future 5G fiber and tower installations. Construction is expected to begin next year.
Mike Wilkinson, Bechtel’s general manager for Europe, said: “We are delighted and honored to have been chosen by the Serbian Government to build this transformational motorway, our first in the country. It is thanks to their vision that we will be delivering much more than a road – the motorway will create a vital economic corridor as well as solve the challenge of flood protection and provide digital connectivity. The Bechtel ENKA team now looks forward to breaking ground, marking the start of a long-term partnership with Serbia to support world-class infrastructure that creates jobs, connects communities and grows the local economy.”
Bechtel is the first U.S. contractor to be involved in a major infrastructure project in Serbia. The long-term partnership between Bechtel and ENKA has successfully delivered major infrastructure projects in the Balkans since the 1990s, including motorways in Albania, Croatia, Turkey and Romania. The partnership has built more than 28,000 kilometers (17,400 miles) of highways and roads, 100 tunnels, and 26 major bridges.