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Zagreb-Split Road

New Zagreb-Split highway

For a country that was still fighting the war for independence as late as 1998, Croatia has managed over the past 10 or so years to develop a good roads infrastructure, after pouring better portions of its budget in particular into building new roads and rebuilding the old ones. A good road network is of great importance to Croatia, as every year millions of European tourists use the roads to reach Croatian coastline, where they spend their summer holidays.

Only about 20% of tourists fly into Croatia for their holidays. The rest comes mostly via roads, while others arrive via ferries and boats, often taking opportunity to purchase some of locally made products along their way on to the coastline or islands. More than 9 millions of tourists visited Croatia in 2005 and over 10 millions in 2006.

City of Zagreb City of Split
The new Zagreb-Split highway connects the two largest cities in Croatia - the capital of Zagreb and Dalmatia's centre, the city of Split.

Relatively close proximity of Croatian Coast to Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Germany, Hungary and other nearby countries, means that most of the visitors coming from these countries tend to drive down to the Coast for their holidays or weekends on Istra peninsula or the Dalmatian Coast. This puts a great strain on the roads network, which is why Croatian government placed a high priority on building good, quality roads, in particular between its capital Zagreb and its coastal cities of Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik, to name a few of the larger ones.

Zagreb-Split highway opened in June 2005

Probably Croatia's largest development project, the four-lane tollway connecting the two largest cities in Croatia, was officially opened on 27. June 2005. The 380 kms long highway, which was completed in just under 3 years time, connects Croatia's capital city Zagreb with its second largest city, Split. The city of Split is also the regional centre of Dalmatia, the largest, coastal region in Croatia.

This modern Zagreb-Split highway will be of immense benefit to the tourists from the continental Europe, many of whom drive down to the Dalmatian coast for their summer holiday, or holiday weekends. The journey through Croatia, from Zagreb down to Split which normally took 6-8 hours, will now be a smooth run of 3-4 hours.

This year it is planned to start with the building of the highway section from Split to Dubrovnik, which is also expected to take a few years to complete. That new section will then connect two of the most popular tourist cities on the Dalmatian coast - Split and Dubrovnik, as well as connecting its capital Zagreb with both those cities.

The benefits of the new road

Snaking its way through some of the most picturesque Croatian hinterland, the new road, which essentially connects Croatian north with its south, will also be of other immense commercial benefits to Croatian economy, apart from the obvious tourism value.

Its is expected that villages and townships near and along this new road will better develop their tourist appeal and services. Already the new Zagreb-Rijeka (the regional centre of Istra peninsula) highway, opened a year earlier, has seen growth of 'village tourism' and 'eco tourism', as the travellers tend to stop along the road to explore the nearby towns and villages.

The new Zagreb-Split road will also increase the value of properties, both of those along the highway as well as down on the coast, because of better road connections. Real estate values in Croatia have already been raising and this new road will be another contributing factor to the rising valuations.

Some facts about Zagreb-Split highway

The full length of the road is some 380 kilometres, which makes it a 3-hour car run, excluding heavy road congestions. These usually happen on certain weekends in the peak Summer season, when there's a rush of tens of thousands of car and campervan driving tourists from the continental Europe.

The highway incorporates 22 bridges, 41 viaducts, 78 overpasses, 65 underpasses, 12 tunnels and 9 animal crossings. The three largest tunnels are:

  • Mala Kapela - 5780 metres 
    Zagreb-Split road
    Zagreb-Split road is a modern 4-lane highway
  • Sveti Rok - 5670 metres 
  • Plasina - 2300 metres 

Two largest viaducts are:

  • Jezerane - 661 metres 
  • Mokro Polje - 660 metres 

The three longest bridges are:

  • Gacka - 470 metres 
  • Maslenica - 377 metres 
  • Krka - 391 metres 

Zagreb-Split tollway costs

The cost of building this new highway, being 22 milliards in Croatian kunas (or 22 billion kunas, in American numbers), means that the local road and transport authority has designated this new highway to be a tollway. It is expected that it will take over 10 years to recoup the road cost (equivalent to just over 3 milliards/billions in Euros) through the toll collection.

If you're planning to travel along this highway, on your way down to your holiday in Dalmatia or perhaps some of Dalmatian islands, then you will also have to take into account the tollway costs. The toll cost for the entire run between Zagreb and Split, one way, is 157 kuna (Croatian currency). This approximately works to be just over 20 Euros.

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