After two years of work, the new D4 Via Salis is almost half finished
The construction of the D4 Via Salis motorway, which is the first Czech PPP project in the infrastructure sector, is almost half finished two years after the start of work. This year, it will close at around 79%.
Transport Minister Martin Kupka came to the motorway to assess the current status of the D4 project and was briefed by representatives of the concessionaire and the contractor with detailed information on the ongoing works. On behalf of the concessionaire Via Salis, Mr. Christian Biegert, CEO of Via Salis and Managing Director for Central Europe of VINCI Highways, and on behalf of the contractor DIVia stavební, Mr. Martin Borovka, CEO of VINCI Construction CS Group.
The progress of the construction two years after its start was also witnessed on site by representatives of other stakeholders: the French Ambassador Alexis Dutertre and the representative of Via Salis shareholder, David Delgado Romero, Partner and Managing Director for Central and Eastern Europe of Meridiam.
"I am pleased that all work on D4 is progressing as expected and the Via Salis project is demonstrating the viability of the PPP model for financing similar infrastructure developments. More significant PPP involvement in rail or motorway construction means spreading payments over time for the state, including subsequent maintenance. This is important at a time when we have less money available from the European Union for motorway construction," said Transport Minister Martin Kupka. According to him, the PPP financing will be used for two sections of the D35 near Mohelnice, while feasibility studies are underway for two railway projects, a section of the IV railway corridor from Ševětín to Nemanice and a part of the new connection to Prague airport.
"The D4 PPP project is the largest French investment in the Czech Republic in at least a decade, and we have therefore been interested in its progress for a long time," said French Ambassador to the Czech Republic Alexis Dutertre. He added that France has the largest number of PPP projects in Europe after the UK. And in the construction of railway lines in the form of PPP, which is now also being considered in the Czech Republic, France is even the European leader.
Two years after the start, motorway construction is about halfway through. "By the end of May, 48% of the total financial volume of the Via Salis project will have been built. Work is underway along the entire 32 kilometres, with a great deal of credit going to the builders and also to the Directorate of Roads and Motorways, which has been preparing the construction," said Via Salis CEO Christian Biegert.
Extensive earthworks are currently underway along the entire route, accompanied by the construction of related structures such as bridges and retaining walls. At the beginning of the Háje - Milín section, the rock mass is gradually being blasted away, which will allow the motorway to be widened to its full necessary width at these points. The most visible work is on the bridge structures, of which there are 40 along the 32 kilometres of the route. There is therefore at least one bridge or culvert for every kilometre of motorway. Without a doubt, the largest, but also the most interesting bridge structure on the Via Salis is the flyover over the Skalice near Nerestce. More than 420 metres long, it crosses a third-class road, a dirt road, the Skalice River valley and a regional railway line.
A significant construction boom awaits Via Salis in the remainder of this year. "Construction activity will be even more noticeable in the second half of construction. The deployment of machinery and human capacity will be extreme. For example, the number of construction workers will increase from the current approximately 700 people to more than 900," said Martin Borovka, CEO of the VINCI Construction CS Group. According to forecasts, up to 79% of the planned funding will have been built by the end of 2023.
Construction of a large operations centre for the management and maintenance of the motorway (SSÚK - Concessionaire Management and Maintenance Centre), which will also house the motorway police, will begin at the Lety major junction in early summer. The construction of two opposite motorway rest areas with petrol pumps will then start at Krsice. By the autumn, one half of the motorway will be open to normal traffic near Milín, and the bridges will be completed by the end of the year.
The entire motorway is being built to meet strict environmental requirements. For example, the SSUC building will be built to a low-energy standard. Heat pumps will be used for heating and hot water, while photovoltaics and solar panels will provide electricity. Similarly high demands are set for the two motorway rest areas, where, among other things, there will be 16 fast-charging stations for electric vehicles. "We are building Via Salis as a sustainable motorway," added Christian Biegert.
In addition to the major construction projects, smaller-scale environmental projects will soon get underway. Wild meadows will be planted in selected areas around the motorway instead of the drab grassland and beehives will be installed in the vicinity. If the flowers and bees thrive, this model will be applied on a larger scale once the motorway is completed.