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Construction on Blanka tunnel delayed

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The Blanka tunnel, intended to carry traffic between Strahov and Troja, was supposed to start easing congestion in the capital from autumn 2011. Drivers will almost certainly not be using it by then, however. The project is likely to cost more than the CZK 21 billion described in the tender, despite assurances by politicians and construction companies to the contrary. Two collapses in the tunnel under Stromovka park have delayed the project, they admit, but it should be easy to make up for lost time.

“The schedules for June 2012 are currently being put together but they should be published only after the elections,” a source informed on the planning told Hospodářské noviny.

Official announcements of all the participating institutions are identical: Everything will be done on time even though work was suspended for four months after the tunnel collapsed under Stromovka. “The delay will be eliminated by the counter-tunnelling that we initiated at the end of July on Letná,” said František Polák, spokesman for construction company Metrostav. Josef Kalíšek from IDS, the company that is supervising the project on behalf of the city, had a similar response.

Prague Mayor Pavel Bém also says the tunnel will open on schedule. “The contract with the price and the schedule of work, including the finishing of the project, is valid, of course,” Bém replied via SMS.

Work schedules vanished
Just when the project will be completed, per the contractually-binding deadline, is difficult to say. Metrostav and IDS refuse to publish the current work schedule. Metrostav removed an earlier work schedule which had been published on line.

“The moment we publish the schedules and are not unable to follow them, there will be chaos and we will look like we can’t be trusted” Polák said. According an earlier schedule, tunnelling under Letná should have finished in May.

According to city hall accounting, the project is being delayed. The city earmarked CZK 7.4 billion for the construction; only CZK 2.2 billion was spent by the end of July. “At least CZK 2.5 billion will fall into surplus since it will not be used in time,” said Petr Hulínský, city representative and chairman of the finance committee of city hall.

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