One of the biggest state orders in the history of Slovakia, construction of the southern part of the Bratislava ring road to improve the traffic situation in Bratislava, is inked. Transport Minister Roman Brecely and Mark Denning Bradshaw, representative of the concessionaire company Zero Bypass Limited signed in Šamorín on May 20 the concession agreement to design, finance, build, operate and maintain the southern part of the Bratislava ring road known also as the D4/R7 project. Simultaneously, Prime Minister Robert Fico and concessionaire’s representative Carlos Ugarte Cruz-Coke signed a memorandum of cooperation, the SITA newswire reported.
“Let’s take this project as of vital importance for Slovakia,” said PM Fico after the signing ceremony as cited by the Denník N daily. “I want to express conviction that today there will not be raised the question whether this ring road is necessary.”
Brecely believes that building of the D4 highway and R7 dual carriageway will improve the traffic conditions.
“This is a break-through moment not only for all car drivers from Bratislava but also all of Slovakia as well as for drivers arriving from the Czech Republic, Austria or Hungary because this project in a fundamental way to alleviate transport in Bratislava; make life of all Bratislavans lighter,” said Brecely.
Carlos Ugarte Cruz-Coke recalled that the D4/R7 project is one of the most important current projects in Europe and that it is closely watched by the whole European community. He hopes that by this project they will establish the highest possible standards not only for Slovakia but also the whole region.
Now the concessionaire company consisting of members of the Obchvat Nula consortium led by Spanish Cintra Infraestructuras International that won the given tender earlier this year has 12 weeks for financial closing of the project but it can do so earlier. Also the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will participate in financing the project when the former will contribute €500 million for construction of the D4 stretch. Slovakia can use EU funds for financing of the ring road too.
The cabinet re-approved the project to build the 59-km southern part of the Bratislava ring road on May 11 after the previous minister Ján Počiatek failed to sign the contract before the elections held on March 5. The winner of the tender was announced on February 1 and the cabinet approved the contract on February 17. After the elections on March 5 new Transport Minister Roman Brecely appointed an expert commission to review the contract. It has not found any discrepancies. In the meantime the minister managed to include in the contract two appendices excluding shell companies from the project and protecting sub-contractors from secondary insolvency of the constructor.
The consortium Obchvat Nula led by Spanish Cintra Infraestructuras International won the tender when it offered to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Bratislava ring road project within a public-private partnership (PPP) project for an annual instalment of €56.72 million. In total the state should pay the consortium €1.9 billion when inflation is taken into consideration over 30 years. The consortium, which features also Austrian Porr and Australian Macquarie Capital Group, offered the lowest price.
Originally the estimated price was €4.5 billion while changes in the project, the high competition on the construction market, low interest rates on the banking market and a well prepared tender were cited behind the drop in the final price.
Minister Brecely expects that construction works would start in the summer or autumn this year. Individual parts of the D4/R7 project should be completed in 2020 and 2021. Preparatory works are expected to start in all probability in the summer, at first with the 17.4 km stretch Dunajská Lužná-Holice, so far the only one which has received the construction licence, the SITA newswire wrote.
The southern part of the ring road consists of the D4 highway Jarovce – Ivanka, north – Rača and the R7 dual carriageway Prievoz – Ketelec – Dunajská Lužná – Holice.
The Bratislava municipality expects that building of the D4 and R7 roads will ameliorate the traffic situation in Bratislava by re-directing the transit transport especially from the overloaded D1 highway to the D4 and thus reduce traffic on the Prístavný bridge. The D4/R7 roads would also bring relief on road entrances into the city.
Some experts lack an analysis of other variants to solve the desperate traffic situation in and around Bratislava when only the ring road was assessed. They wonder whether, for example, building of the so-called short ring road or improvement of public transport and integrated transport and building of park&ride facilities would be not enough.
The Institute of Financial Policy (IFP), a governmental think tank at the Finance Ministry, has analysed the ring road project, but it focused only on comparison of financing of the project from the state budget via public procurement and as a PPP. The analysis actually indicated that to do nothing would be the worst solution. It also indicated that while financing from state money would be cheaper that via PPP, any postponement would make the project financed directly from the state coffers more expensive.
It concluded that if the construction of the ring road starts this year, the financing of the project from public finances would be €62 million more advantageous than financing via PPP. However, building the project financed from public finances would require a new tender, which would prolong the whole process by two years at least and IFP estimates that construction works would commence only in 2018. In such a scenario the PPP project comes out as €113 million more advantageous when the two-year social-economic benefits are estimated at €178 million. In case the construction starts in 2017, the PPP would be more advantageous by €26 million.
Another candidate for PPP
To solve the transport situation in Bratislava thoroughly the Transport Ministry considers as needed also completion of the northern bypass of Bratislava including a tunnel via the Small Carpathians mountain range while this project is one of the candidates for PPP.
“My ambition is to start with selection of an advisor for this project,” said Brecely as cited by SITA, adding that a feasibility study should be done to calculate the impacts of this project on traffic in the region.
For now the planned stretch of D4 Bratislava, Rača – Bratislava, Záhorská Bystrica to be 12 km long including a 9 km long tunnel Karpaty is in the beginning phase of preparation of a technical study. The route of this stretch of the ring road should start at the crossroads Ivanka pri Dunaji, north with the D1 continuing eastwards from Bratislava borough Vajnory and entering the Karpaty tunnel. On the western side of the Small Carpathians it should lead along the Marianka village and end at the crossroad Bratislava, Záhorská Bystrica.
Ondrej Matej from the Institute for Transport and Economy indicates that when assessing this project from the viewpoint of value for money it is not reasonable when its price tag might be between €1.7 billion and 2 billion in case when procured by the state or more than €3.5 billion when built via PPP.
INEKO analyst Ján Kovalčík calls for assessment and comparison of other variants to cross the Small Carpathians mountain range.