Albanian motorway opens

By Sandy Guthrie28 October 2010

A 61 km, four-lane highway stretches from central Albania to the Kosovo border.

A 61 km, four-lane highway stretches from central Albania to the Kosovo border.

Bechtel and joint-venture partner Enka have completed construction of a 61 km, four-lane highway that stretches from central Albania to the Kosovo border. The motorway is now open to traffic.

The end of construction was marked by a ceremony to open a second tunnel bore - the final section of the motorway. Ministers of transport from Albania and Kosovo, plus other senior officials from both countries, attended the opening.

The motorway is the central leg of a 171 km highway traversing the country from the Adriatic Sea to the northeastern village of Kalimash near Kosovo. The new roadway cuts travel time along the route from six to two hours, which it is expected will boost coastal trade and northeast tourism.

The motorway also provides a connection within Albania and across the region, linking markets to the Adriatic port of Durres and contributing to economic growth as Albania prepares for accession to the European Union.

The Albanian Motorway is one of the largest-ever infrastructure projects in the country and presented many engineering challenges because of the complexities of the geology in the region and the fast-track construction schedule. The motorway includes a 5.5 km twin-bore tunnel and 29 bridges built in a rocky, mountainous region.

During construction, the project was the largest employer in the area, with Albanians accounting for two thirds of the workforce.

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