The companies that will build the Peljesac bridge will be known by the end of the year and construction work on the project should start in 2017, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic and Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Tomislav Tolusic said on Monday, on the occasion of the publication of a tender for the selection of the companies to build the Peljesac bridge and access roads.

Butkovic said that last week the project documentation was sent to the European Commission seeking the co-financing of construction work on the Peljesac bridge with EU funds. He said that he hoped the EU would co-finance the project with EUR 330 million, the project's total estimated value being EUR 380 million.

The tender, which will be published today and which refers to construction work on the bridge, access roads and a bypass road, will be conducted in two stages, said Butkovic. In the first stage, to last about 60 days, the bidders' legal and technical capacity will be checked, while in the second stage, the best bidder should be chosen and that is expected to happen by the end of the year, he said.

"The Peljesac bridge project has been launched and nothing can stop it now," Butkovic said, adding that there was a political and public consensus about the project.

Tolusic commended his ministry's hard work over the past five months, which he said had made it possible to send an application for co-funding to Brussels.

According to Tolusic, there is no reason why the caretaker government cannot publish the tender for the project because its implementation in the next six months would not financially burden the state.

He said that all of the available EU funding for transport projects would be directed to the Peljesac bridge as there were no other projects that were ready.

Tolusic expects the EC to grant Croatia's request for co-financing because it is founded, supported with the relevant documentation and had been presented well to Brussels.

He called on Croatian companies to organise into a consortium to bid for construction work on the project.

The Peljesac bridge is part of a road transport project linking southern Dalmatia with the rest of the country.

The total value of the project is EUR 525.9 million and the investor is the Hrvatske Ceste road company.

The Peljesac bridge, to link the Peljesac peninsula with the mainland, is expected to be 2,404 metres long. It is also expected to have two traffic lanes and two hard shoulders and to be one of the five biggest bridges in Europe.

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