20 months of construction having gone without a hitch, the new underpass in Saint Leopold Mandić Street in Osijek was opened to traffic with a ceremony. Works on the underpass, located at the southern entrance to the city, represent the largest communal infrastructure project in Osijek, worth 12.35 million euros.
Saint L. Mandić Street, also known as Čepin Road, is an important road in Osijek. At the same time, it used to be among the busiest sections of local roads in Croatia, with an average daily traffic of 25,000 vehicles and daily stoppages lasting 2 and a half hours. The road is crossed by the Zagreb – Osijek railway, which is why local drivers and pedestrians have learned to live with long stops at the railway crossing.
Due to the construction works carried out by Osijek-Koteks, the level crossing was eliminated. The construction of a 509-meter-long underpass, as well as a road and railway bridge, enables smooth flow of city traffic, without stopping. The project was acknowledged in the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014 – 2020 (OPCC), leading to a 10.5 million euro grant from the EU Cohesion Fund. One of the objectives of OPCC is to remove bottlenecks on important transport routes, and the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure is responsible for the implementation of the program in the domain of transport.
Pressing traffic problem solved using European Union funding
At the opening, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković emphasized the welcome change in the everyday life of citizens brought by the new underpass. It will prevent the frequent blockage of traffic in the wider city center of Osijek caused by standing and waiting at level crossings and reduce the share of automobiles in favor of public transport and cyclists, while shortening travel times. The completion of the works also marked the return of the railway line from the temporary deviation to the original route via the new railway overpass.
This significant gain for Osijek was achieved without exhausting the city budget, ahead of schedule, and even with savings compared to earlier cost estimates. According to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Butković, there will be other such projects in the future: “The Government of the Republic of Croatia and all of us remain open to cooperation and delivering assistance, investing even more strongly in the Osijek-Baranja County and the City of Osijek in the new financial framework”.
In addition to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Butković, the opening ceremony of the Osijek underpass was attended by Osijek-Baranja County Prefect Ivan Anušić, Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić, SAFU Director Dragan Jelić and Croatian Roads Board Chairman Josip Škorić.