On 1 and 2 April 2021, our team took part in the monthly progress meetings for the Zheleznitsa Tunnel. The meetings were held online due to the epidemic situation in the country and due to cases of construction workers having contracted COVID.
As a whole, the contractors reported slower than expected progress in March. The main reason they give is the unfavourable weather conditions. Some of the more significant completed works include:
- In Lot 1 – Three concrete elements slid over in the right lane of the bridge and a fourth element ready to be slid into place this week;
- In Lot 2 – Work continues on the secondary lining in the right tunnel pipe; the plans are to begin with the secondary lining in the left pipe in April, first from the north side and, at the end of the month, from the south side;
- In Lot 3 – Additional geological inspections have started which are necessary to assess the condition and proposal to reinforce the landslide; in the meantime, where possible, the construction workers will work on the landscape formation
During the February monthly progress meeting for the tunnel itself (Lot 2), the contractor reported that the two tunnel tubes had been completely bored. The contractor noted that the meeting had taken place earlier than scheduled and the misalignment had been not more than 1-2 cm. The laying of secondary lining in the right tube continues: as of the end of February 2021, 40 segments on the north side are completed and 39 segments on the south side are completed or a total of approximately half of the tube length. The overall progress of completion is 57%
Road Infrastructure Agency published the new annex with the contractor for Lot 1 of Zheleznitsa Tunnel at their website. The annex provides for an extension of the deadline for completion by 307 days – by December 2021. This is necessary because of the landslide processes in the beginning of the section (at km 366+000). The contractor DZZD Zheleznitsa – Sever will reinforce the slope within the price agreed. The full text of the annex is available at
During the monthly meeting at Lot 3 – south of the tunnel, the contractor PST Group reported an overall progress of 72% in the completion of construction works. The contractors are completely ready with the ground work (excavation and embankments) along the road. The next step is to prepare a test section with asphalt works and then proceed with the overall laying of asphalt. Due to the need for additional works to reinforce a large section of rockslide in immediate proximity to the left lane, the deadline for completion will be extended
At the north side of the monitored project – the bridge before the tunnel (Lot 1), the contractor GBS reported an overall progress of 55%. According to the estimates of the contractor, February should be the last “weaker” month because the coming of the spring would improve the conditions for work. As of 4 March 2021, the contractors reported the sliding of the 6th section from the right lane of the bridge installation. The completion of a section from the beginning of preparation of the concrete to sliding in place takes approximately 12 days
By early February 2021, the progress of the tunnel excavation is as follows:
- left tube: from the north there are excavated 970 m; from the south excavation works are concluded;
- right tube: from the north excavation works are complete; from the south the works continue.
The contractor claimed that the excavation will be fully implemented by the end of February 2021. They reported a total of 54% works progress
On February 4, our team visited the construction site and took part in the monthly progress meeting for lot 1 of Zheleznitsa tunnel. The contractor reported that the fourth element of the right-hand lane of the bridge was ready. According to their calculations, the concrete construction of the lane will be finished by the end of summer 2021. The works for strengthening of the landslide at the northern end of the bridge will start soon. The Road Infrastructure Agency intend to extent the deadline for execution by signature of a new addendum to the contract with DZZD "Zheleznitsa - Sever"
During the monthly meeting at lot 3 – the road section south from the tunnel, the builders reported landslide at their section, which most probably will lead to temporary suspension of the works
On Monday, our team took part in the monthly meeting on the progress of lot 1 – the main installation in this part is the bridge north of the tunnel. The contractor reports completion of the preparatory work necessary to start building the right lane of the bridge: the so called “construction yard” is ready and the steel frame of the launching nose has been moved and prepared. The contractor provides assurance that in the event of favourable weather, they will launch the first section before the Christmas holiday season
At the monthly meeting for the second section – the tunnel itself, the contractors from GP Group and Global Construction reported the following progress:
On the north side: excavation and initiation lining of the calotte – 808 m in the left pipe and 784 m in the right one. Intensive work is underway in the right pipe in relation to the systems which need to be completed before the second lining, including draining (200 m), hydro insulation (190 m), reinforcement (160 m). Nine segments from the secondary cladding* totalling 108 m are completed.
On the south side: excavation and initial lining of the calotte – 890 m in the left pipe, respectively 810 m in the right one. Similarly to the work on the north entry, the contractors report the completion of 340 m of draining systems, 140 m of hydro insulation, 100 m of reinforcement and 7 segments (84 m) of secondary cladding in the right tunnel pipe.
Serious difficulties caused by the coronavirus are reported: the number of workers on the site has been reduced by approximately 30% which includes both infected workers and those who have been in contact. Despite the difficulties, the contractor insist that the works are actually progressing ahead of schedule. The total share of completed construction and assembly works stands at 47%.
*The length of a segment is 12 m determined by the form-work used
The Transparency International team took part today in the monthly meeting on the progress of the third lot – 1.4 km road section south of the tunnel. As of the beginning of December 2020, the completion of construction and assembly works stands at 65% made up mainly of ground works – excavations and embankments – which are expected to be completed fully soon. The contractors from PST Group also report progress in the works on Zone A*: the laying of bituminous gravel along the right lane has started and 600 m are now ready from km 369+800 to km 370+400. The contractors report a good work pace with no deviations from the work plan.
*Upper layer of the road embankment of which the asphalt is part
One year after the start of the essential construction, the progress reported by contractors is 36.5% for lot 1, 42% for lot 2, and 47.92% for lot 3. The funds expended expressed as a share of the respective contract amount respectively to 9.82%, 35.18% and 40.81%. For further data look at the News subpage.
The progress of the works on the tunnel (lot 2) is significant as well. The engineer in charge reported total length of excavation have reached 1362 m in the left tube and 1264 m in the right. Simultaneously the workers perform the laying of waterproofing and installation of drainage pipes. The contractor also reported the completion of the excavation of one of the two connecting vehicle galleries. The form-work systems for the secondary cladding have been prepared. On the north side, the secondary cladding will be performed simultaneously in both tunnel tubes, and on the south side it is currently planned in only one of them. The contractor declares that the works are going a little ahead of schedule after the latter has been revised due to the extension of the contract earlier in August CY
During the today’s field visit the independent monitor registered remarkable progress of the works. The left lane of the bridge within the lot 1 is almost completed. According to the contractor Glavbolgarstroy, this part of the project will be finalized by early November 2020. The contractor started preparations for the construction of the right lane
According to data provided by the Road Infrastructure Agency, by early September 2020 the excavation works for the tunnel exceeded the half of its length. The contractor DZZD "AM STRUMA TUNNEL 2018" reported a total progress of 1284 m for the left tube and 1210 m for the right tube. The excavation works are being performed simultaneously from each of the tunnel exits
The Road Infrastructure Agency published another pack of amendments to the execution contracts for the Zheleznitsa tunnel. The changes involve prolongation of the deadlines for execution – with 60 days for each lot – and are motivated with the working conditions during the coronavirus crisis. The contract amendments are available in Bulgarian language at http://www.api.bg/PROXY/index2.php?/public/index.jsp?proc=972
By the end of May 2020, the progress of the works on Zheleznitsa tunnel is as follows:
- Lot 1: The second and the third section of the left lane of the bridge, north to the tunnel, have been completed.
- Lot 2: Excavation works for the tunnel continue simultaneously for the left and the right tubes, both from the north and from the south. The contractor reported starting the excavation for the first emergency passage linking the two tunnel tubes.
- Lot 3: Excavation works 50% ready.
All contractors have been working at a reduced pace, because of the measures taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus among field workers.
*The information has been provided by the Road Infrastructure Agency
We registered progress in the construction of the bridge north to the tunnel, which is implemented by Glavbolgarstroy: the first section of the bridge can now be freely observed when driving on the E79 road. Pictures from our observation are available at tunnel.report and at the TI-Bulgaria Facebook page
Today we’ve visited the construction site of the lot 2 – the tunnel. The builders reported significant progress in the excavation works: over 160 m from the north and 300 m from the south sides in both tunnel tubes. The constructors are working 24/7. The representatives of the GP Group also reported that they have caught up with the delay from the first months and are currently moving on schedule
Within the field observation activities, in February we took part in the monthly meeting for lot 2. The contractor Glavbolgarstroy reported a slight lag behind the schedule due to the challenges of implementing of the chosen bridge construction method (which they apply for the first time) and adverse winter weather conditions. We consider the reasons for delay objective and agree with both the contracting authority and the construction supervisor, that the quality of the construction should be on first place
Today we participated in the regular monthly meeting for lot 3 (contractor PST Group) and visited the construction site of lot 2. By mid-January the digging of the tubes from south reached 150 m and from the north – 25-30 m, the contractor said
See pictures from our observation and share yours at tunnel.report
During the today’s on-spot visit we observed lots 1 and 2. The contractor of lot 1 reported that they were ready with the construction of the launching nose which will “pull out” the concrete sections of the bridge deck. The incremental launching method for bridge construction is being applied for the first time in our country.
The builder of the tunnel (lot 2) also reported good rate of progress, although a bit behind schedule. to guarantee the execution is done in time, they planned to switch to 24 hour operating mode
TI-Bulgaria team visited the tunnel construction site (lot 2). The hosts from GP Group reported progress in the digging of the tunnel from south – 30 m in the left tube, and 15 m in the right one. We also noticed significant advancement in the preparations for digging from the north side.
See our observations in pictures at tunnel.report
TI-Bulgaria representative took part in the regular monthly meeting between the contracting authority, the contractor (PST Group) and the construction supervisor (Patconsult 2000 – Consult 64) regarding execution of the lot 3. Builders said a change in the initial construction schedule would be needed to take into account the winter conditions
The Road Infrastructure Agency announced at their website the beginning of the construction of the Zheleznitsa tunnel. The Independent Monitor’s check revealed that the building permit for the bridge across Struma river and northern exit (lot 1) has been issued on August 26, 2019, and the building permits for the lots 2 and 3 – the tunnel itself and the road part to the south respectively – on October 16, 2019
The contracting authority published at their website the full text of an addendum to the contract agreement with DZZD "AM STRUMA TUNNEL 2018", the contractor for Lot 2. According to the document, signed by both parts on 18.04.2019, the consortium led by the GP Group starts the detailed technical design on March 1, 2019.
The Road Infrastructure Agency published the contracts for the construction supervision to the smaller road parts of the project – immediately before and after the Zheleznitsa tunnel. To the north the supervision will be implemented by the association DZZD “TES Consult” and to the south – by DZZD “Patconsult 2000 – Consult 64”. The supervisory activities are funded by the Transport and Transport Infrastructure 2014-2020 operational programme
RIA published the signed contract agreement for the construction supervision to the lot 2 of the project – the Zheleznitsa tunnel. The selected contractor is Consortium “Plan Invest Zheleznitsa” DZZD
The Road Infrastructure Agency announced signature of the contract for the lot 2 with the selected contractor - DZZD "AM STRUMA TUNNEL 2018" (partners: GP GROUP, GLOBAL CONSTRUCTION and VIA PLAN). The contracting authority also informs that the second ranked bidder – a consortium of companies under Glavbolgarstroy Holding has not prolonged the validity of their offer, which expired in November 2018
The government appointed two members to the RIA’s Management Board, including the new chair. According to the Minister of the Regional Development and Public Works, the appointees possess broad administrative and management experience, which will balance the lack of practice in the roads’ sector
The Road Infrastructure Agency published at their website annexes to the contracts for lot 1 and lot 3, signed in autumn 2018. The annexes provide for postponement of the starting date for execution of the 1st phase of the contracts – technical design. To complete and submit the detailed design, the contractors have to obtain the conclusion of the Engineer (construction supervisor). The contracting authority run a separate procurement procedure for selection of Engineers in the respective lots, but no contracts have been signed up to late January 2019
The Chair of the Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency resigned from his office. The reason is the multiple errors and bugs in the newly launched e-vignette system. Few days ago another of the three members of the RIA board was discharged for the same reason
12 months have passed since the announcement of the bids. According to the requirements in the tendering documentation that was the validity period of the offers
The Contracting Authority published the signed agreement with DZZD “ZHELEZNITSA-SEVER” (GBS - Infrastructure Construction, Glavbolgarstroy and GBS International) – the selected bidder for lot 1. The contract includes design and build of the section north from the tunnel. The time frame for the execution is 600 days; the price is 35 982 414 BGN or approx. 18.4 million euro
The Supreme Administrative Court decided in favour of the Contracting Authority regarding the preliminary enforcement of the Decision for selection of contractors regarding the tunnel itself (lot 2). Transparency International - Bulgaria continues with the monitoring of the contracting procedure
GP Group – the leading partner in the consortium which has been selected to implement lot 2 of the procurement procedure (the tunnel per se), announced in the media that they would not sign the contract. The decision came in response to the Prime-minister’s words, that he ordered the Road Infrastructure Agency management to find an appropriate form to remove the company from all procurement procedures. According to media publications, the company motivated themselves with the “real risk of delays in the schedule for execution” because of the current examinations
The Road Infrastructure Agency published at their internet site the contract for execution with PST GROUP EAD. The contractor is assigned design and construction of the lot 3 of the tender – 1.4 km road, south from the “Zheleznitsa” tunnel. The total price of the contract amounts to 22 130 756.88 BGN, VAT included (~11.3 MEUR). The timeframe for execution is 660 days. So far there is no publicly available information regarding contracts with the other two selected contractors
The Commission for Protection of Competition allowed for preliminary enforcement of the Decision for selection of contractors by request of the Road Infrastructure Agency. In the pronouncement the CPC summarizes the motives of the contracting authority. The full text of the document is available at http://reg.cpc.bg/Dossier.aspx?DossID=300053364
According to the public register of the Commission for Protection of Competition, two bidders in the tender for “Zheleznista” tunnel – Aktor SA, Greece and "Todini Bulgaria" DZZD, challenged the Contracting Authority’s Decision for selection of contractors
The Road Infrastructure Agency published Decision no. 108 / 06.08.2018 with final scoring of the bidders in the tender for Zheleznitsa tunnel. The selected Contractors are as follow:
• Lot 1: DZZD "ZHELEZNITSA - SEVER" (GBS - Infrastructure Construction, Bulgaria; Glavbolgarstroy, Bulgaria; GBS International, Bulgaria)
• Lot 2: DZZD "AM STRUMA TUNNEL 2018" (GP Group, Bulgaria; Global Construction, Bulgaria; Via Plan, Bulgaria)
• Lot 3: PST GROUP, BULGARIA
Total amount of the selected offers is 233 798 012 BGN (~ 119.5 million EUR) – approximately 16 million BGN less than the estimated value of 250 million. The decision of the Contracting Authority altogether with the minutes and the final report of the evaluation committee are available on the RIA website at: http://www.api.bg/PROXY/index2.php?/public/index.jsp?proc=972
The evaluation committee at the Road Infrastructure Agency conducted an open meeting and announced the financial offers of the bidders. Only prices of 4 of the all 13 bidders who submitted offers for lot 2 (the tunnel) were announced. Among those bidding for the exits, subject to financial assessment will be 5 of 8 (lot 1) and 5 of 7 (lot 3) bidders respectively. The committee also announced scores for technical part of the offers of the same candidates. The Contracting Authority did not provide any reasons on why the technical offers of rest of the bidders were not evaluated
The minister of the Regional Development and Public Works appointed Svetoslav Glosov new Chair of the Management Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency. The former Chair – Doncho Atanasov remains member of the Board of the agency
The Contracting Authority published two protocols of the work of the evaluation committee – (1) from the open meeting of 28.11.2017 and (2) from a number of sessions conducted in 04.12.2017 – 13.02.2018 during which the committee assessed the bidders in accordance with the eligibility criteria. The evaluation committee proposed for exclusion from further evaluation four bidders: three of them bidding on lot 3 (south exit) and one bidding on lot 2 (the tunnel). The full texts of the protocols are available at the Road Infrastructure Agency website here: http://www.api.bg/PROXY/index2.php?/public/index.jsp?proc=972
During the public meeting of the evaluation commission the contracting authority advertised bids, submitted to the tender. For the tunnel itself (lot 2) compete thirteen bidders, and for the road parts at the exits – eight (lot 1) and seven (lot 3) respectively. Along with the major Bulgarian construction companies Italian, Spanish, Turkish, and Greek companies also submitted their bids. The commission should decide on the three contractors within 12 months
The Road Infrastructure Agency relaunched for the third time the procurement procedure for design and build of Zheleznitsa tunnel along Struma motorway. Alike in the second procedure, the tender has been split into three lots allowing each bidder to bid for only one of them
Transparency International – Bulgaria and the Road Infrastructure Agency signed a new Integrity Pact, setting out rules for the independent civil monitoring of the forthcoming procurement procedure for Zheleznitsa tunnel
After monitoring by the Public Procurement Agency over the changes in the documentation the Road Infrastructure Agency terminated the tender
RIA published on their website Decision no 101/18.09.2017. With the decision Contracting Authority made changes in the tendering documentation and postponed the deadline for submitting of offers to 6 November 2017
The Road Infrastructure Agency relaunched the public procurement procedure for the Zheleznitsa tunnel. The tender is split into three separate lots – the tunnel itself and two road sections at the exits. According to the tendering documentation each bidder is allowed to bid for only one of the lots. The contracts’ execution deadlines are reduced – the longest is 1060 days, compared to 1400 in the terminated tender. The deadline for submitting of offers is 19.10.2017
After prolonged negotiations TI-Bulgaria and the Road Infrastructure Agency signed the Integrity Pact to the public procurement procedure for “Design and construction of Struma motorway Lot 3.1 Zheleznitsa tunnel with three lots”
The RIA Management Board is accomplished with two new members – Mr. Svetoslav Glosov and Mr. Veselin Davidov. Ms. Iliana Zaharieva was discharged from the MB
Transparency International – Bulgaria met Nikolai Nankov, the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works and the Head of the Management Authority of the Operational Programme “Transport and Transport Infrastructure” 2014-2020
By the decision of the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works appointed Chair of the Management Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency is Mr. Doncho Atanasov
Deadline for appeal of the Decision for termination expires. According to the public register of the Commission for Protection of Competition no appeals have been submitted
Meeting between the Independent Observer and the management of Road Infrastructure Agency: discussion regarding circumstances led to termination of the tender and plans for preparation and announcement of a new tender
Transparency International - Bulgaria published Legal Analysis on the Decision for Termination of the Procurement Procedure
The Independent Observer addressed the Contracting Authority with questions regarding circumstances around missing offer
Meeting between the Independent Observer and the Bulgarian Construction Chamber: discussion of the challenges and risks before business in regard with the termination of the procurement procedure
During a joint press conference, the Head of the Road Infrastructure Agency and the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works said that the missing documents (being part of a submitted offer) is the main reason for termination of the tender
The Road Infrastructure Agency issued Decision no. 27 for termination of the public procurement procedure. The Decision was based on five motives, one of which reads laconically "...missing part of submitted offer of one of the bidders…" The Decision for termination was published at the CA's website in the end of the day on 04.04.2017
Euro Alliance Tunnels, Bulgaria - a company participating in the "Struma Zheleznitsa" Consortium, acceded the Integrity Pact
The Contracting Authority published at their website two protocols (minutes) from the work of the Evaluation Committee - concerning meetings conducted on 16.08.2016 and 17.02.2017 respectively. Seen from the minutes of the second meeting, the Evaluation Committee reviewed documents supporting the eligibility criteria of the bidders. Only two tenderers provided their documents following all requirements set by the CA; one bidder failed to prolong the validity of the offer and was excluded from further evaluation
Meeting between Transparency International - Bulgaria and members of the Management Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency: discussions on circumstances led to delay of the procurement procedure and the progress of the evaluation phase of the tender
The second meeting of the Evaluation Committee took place. Minutes from the session were published on 08.03.2017
The Road Infrastructure Agency issued Decision no. РД-11-118: Contracting Authority appointed a new external expert, member of the Evaluation Committee
Transparency International - Bulgaria published the Initial Monitoring Report regarding the preparation phase of the procurement procedure
The Minister of Regional Development and Public Works of the caretaker government appointed Acting Head of the Management Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency
A tragic incident in the "Echemishka" tunnel along the "Hemus" highway took place. The Minister of Regional Development and Public Works announced in media that he would ask for resignation of the Head of Management Board of the RIA
The Road Infrastructure Agency issued Decision no. РД-11-42: Contracting Authority prolonged the offers' evaluation phase up to 10.04.2017
The Contracting Authority addressed the bidders with enquiry for prolongation of the validity of the offers. The Independent Observer was not notified about these developments
Transparency International - Bulgaria met the newly appointed Head of the Management Board of the RIA
The Minister of Regional Development and Public Works (resigned) appointed new Head of the Management Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency
Following the resignation of the Government, the Head of the Road Infrastructure Agency also stepped back
Deadline for offers' evaluation phase expired. No documents regarding the Evaluation Committee work were published at the CA's website
Meeting between the Independent Observer and the Contracting Authority: verification of the Initial Monitoring Report regarding the preparation phase of the procurement procedure
Transparency International - Bulgaria launched the White List of the tenderers which acceded the Integrity Pact
The Road Infrastructure Agency and Transparency International - Bulgaria concluded and Addendum to the Integrity Pact in order to publicly confirm the commitments for collaboration within the initiative for civil monitoring of the procurement procedure for Zheleznitsa tunnel
INC SpA Italy acceded the Integrity Pact
Transparency International - Bulgaria started awareness campaign towards business with view of the involvement of the private sector in the initiative
TI-Bulgaria took part in the first public meeting of the Evaluation Committee. A total number of 17 bidders submitted offers for participation in the procedure. Two of the tenderers - ASTALDI SpA Italy and J/V AKTOR - AER acceded the Integrity Pact by submitting application forms together with their offers. The CA determined a 90-days term for work of the Evaluation Committee
The Road Infrastructure Agency issued Decision no. 89: the new deadline for submission of the offers was 15.08.2016. The public meeting for offers' announcement was scheduled for the next day - 16.08.2016
The deadline for succession between the NCSIP and the RIA expired. The Road Infrastructure Agency officially became the new Contracting Authority
The Supreme Administrative Court cancelled the appeal of "S and G Group BG"
The amended Roads Act came into force. The law determined a one-month term for succession between the NCSIP and the RIA
The Parliament passed the amendments of the Roads Act which provided for termination of the National Company "Strategic Infrastructure Projects". The Road Infrastructure Agency was appointed assignee
The Commission for Protection of Competition decided against the appeal of "S and G Group BG". The law provided right for appeal before the higher instance - the Supreme Administration Court
A group of Members of Parliament submitted a bill for amendment of the Roads Act providing for termination of the National Company "Strategic Infrastructure Projects"
The Contracting Authority suspended the procurement procedure pursuant Art. 120a of the Public Procurement Act
"S and G Group BG" submitted a claim regarding the procurement procedure to the Commission for Protection of Competition
The Contracting Authority extended again the deadline for submitting of offers to 25.02.2016
The "Integrity Pacts - Civil Control Mechanisms for Safeguarding of EU Funds, Phase 2" project launched. Transparency International - Bulgaria in its capacity of Independent Observer started monitoring of the preparation phase of the procurement procedure
The Contracting Authority extended the deadline for submitting of offers to 15.02.2016
The Public Procurement Agency issued ex-ante control report
Transparency International - Bulgaria and the National Company "Strategic Infrastructure Projects" concluded and opened for accession the Integrity Pact to the public procurement procedure for design and build of Zheleznitsa tunnel along the Struma motorway
The Contracting Authority announced the public procurement procedure for design and build of Zheleznitsa tunnel. The Decision no. ОП-29-РШ-002 determined 25.01.2016 the deadline for submission of offers by interested business entities
Transparency International - Bulgaria and the National Company "Strategic Infrastructure Projects" signed Memorandum of Understanding. The document set the official start of actions for preparation of the Integrity Pact
The management of the National Company "Strategic Infrastructure Projects" in its capacity of Contracting Authority approved the 2015 annual plan for public procurement procedures. The plan provided for the Zheleznitsa tunnel tender to be announced in late 2015
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