Two motorway and two road bridges over the Danube river currently connect the city centre of Bratislava (north side) with Petrzalka (south side), a large housing area with a population of 130 000 people or 30% of Bratislava's resident population. As the Petrzalka area provides only about 10% of the city's employment opportunities, heavy commuter traffic crosses the river for employment in the city centre. The four existing bridges cannot adequately cope with the traffic flow. The new Koaická Bridge is expected to carry 18% of traffic crossing the river, easing congestion on the easterly Pristavny Bridge by separating local from long-distance transit traffic. The nearby Stary Most (Old Bridge), where traffic flows have been reduced for safety reasons, is planned to be closed to traffic in the near future. It may continue as a pedestrian crossing. The eventual closing of "Stary Most" will further shift traffic to the three remaining bridges and hence the construction of Koaická Bridge is of crucial importance.
In addition to the new Koaická four-lane road bridge over the Danube, the project comprises links to the motorway network on the south bank, as well the upgrading of roads on the north bank connecting the new bridge. It forms part of a long-standing strategic development plan for Bratislava, approved by the City Council.
EIB Decision to Finance
On 10 September 2001, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and METRO Bratislava signed an agreement on a EUR 45 million EIB loan for the new bridge. METRO is a special-purpose company owned by the City of Bratislava and the Slovak Republic.
Disbursement of the funds were, among other things, subject to the successful completion of an ongoing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including identification of mitigation measures, adequate public consultation and public tendering procedures in line with international standards.
METRO, which is implementing the project, was aware that completing all outstanding actions that would have been carried out as part of a full EIA under EU Directive 97/11 was a necessary condition before any EIB funds can be disbursed. This includes adequate public consultation, particularly with respect to the impacts in the northern area and on the south bank of the river, and on the appropriate mitigation measures regarding noise, pollution and severance in the northern route corridors. Other key issues were the need for an environmental impact study of the area affected by the project on the south bank and the need for a contaminated land investigation on the north bank. A non-technical summary of the environmental impact assessment of the project was also needed for circulation to the public. To meet EIB requirements, METRO engaged the services of international consultants with environmental expertise in 2001.
The international consultants produced a report in February 2002 that included a review of the EIA process and listed further actions required. In November, a second report summarized the actions that had been carried out to complete the EIA. Both reports were discussed with EIB and reviewed by the Bank's Environmental Unit. In January 2003, the November report was formally issued with the ongoing mitigation measures and monitoring of environmental impacts agreed with METRO management.
Following this report and after written confirmation from the consultant's Environmental Expert that the EIA was now complete, and mitigation measures either incorporated into the project or subject to ongoing actions by METRO, EIB confirmed to METRO its acceptance that the EIA is complete.
The environmental sections of the consultants' final reports of February and November 2002 are available for review by the public at the METRO Information Centre. Mrs Zuzana Tothova, METRO's Environmental Liaison Officer, is available to give information on environmental studies carried out for the project, and ongoing environmental monitoring (Tel +421 2 6720 1132; e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tendering for the bridge works was completed during 2002, the construction contract was awarded in December 2002 and works commenced on site on 3rd February 2003.