Long-delayed Blanka tunnel complex finally opening to traffic
The newly-constructed Blanka tunnel complex will open to traffic on Saturday, September 19th. The longest city tunnel in Europe was to have been the pride of Prague, but it has been dogged by problems, opening four years late and way over budget.
Although a major construction project of this kind could have been expected to run into some problems, the complications accompanying the Blanka tunnel complex exceeded all expectations. Its planned opening in 2011 was repeatedly postponed and its cost ballooned from a projected 17.8 billion crowns to 43 billion. At one point Metrostav, the company building it, stopped work on the tunnel for several months, claiming Prague City Hall was not paying its bills, an argument which had to be settled by an arbitration court. And, in December of last year, the current mayor of Prague, Adriana Krnáčová, reacted with anger to yet another delay, telling the media that the project had been designed by “idiots” when it emerged that several kilometres of newly-installed electric cables had been damaged by rainwater and had to be replaced. In the end, to avoid further embarrassment, all sides agreed to hold their peace until the tunnel had been completed.