Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Highway

I love to travel to the remote corners of Albania and have done my fair share of complaining about the quality of the roads. By far the trip that brings out the whiner in me more than any other has been the trip to Kukes. I've done that slog seven times now. Yes, I'm counting. The first time was in 2000 during winter. The trip took 12.5 hours to cover 250 kilometers. This despite being driven by a midly insane Albanian in a vehicle with a huge engine and diplomatic plates! The road was bad as we left Tirana and things went downhill from there.

The last time I went to Kukes, things were looking up. The total trip time was down to 6 hours even though I was driving a badly overloaded Chevy Suburban. The modern highway from Tirana to Milot had been opened by then which accounted for most of the reduction in travel time. The rest of the road was still a twisty, bumpy mess but had been improved somewhat. I swore I would never think of going up there again. Until now.

The new 4-lane highway which is causing so much uproar in political circles is getting close to completion. Say what you will about it being a white elephant project draining badly needed funds from other sectors. That's true, but I can't wait until it's done just for the sheer pleasure on making it up to Kukes without getting carsick. This video, released by Bechtel/Enka gives a little glimpse into the project and the area it passes through. I can hardly wait. Anyone up for an August road trip to Shistavec?

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I must confess these are not my pictures. I grabbed them off of "". I was just going to link to this forum, but it was full of "my tunnel is bigger than yours" flame wars between Greeks, Albanians, Croats, and Serbs.


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