Earthmoving, piling and concrete pouring is busily under way for the 15.8km Negotino to Demir Kapija link on Macedonia's main northsouth highway, the Trans European Network Corridor 10, now designated the E75. It runs from Austria to Greece.
Major US firm Louis Berger, operating in its Paris-based European incarnation, is engineering supervisor for the third stage of the project, one of several contracts for design, strategic studies and supervision it has in the country.
'Two phases have already been carried out, ' explains British resident engineer John Thompson. 'An initial 5.5km is complete, and asphalting is under way on another 3.9km.
'Ours is the southernmost part, a 6.4km, $17M link jointly funded by the EU and the government. We began in June and the job runs until December next year.'
Contractor is the former stateowned Pelagonija, which has been 48% privatised and eventually will be completely sold off. Design is by Granit, formerly part of the government.
The work is not exceptionally difficult, he says, and there is only one important structure, a 157m multispan prestressed T-beam bridge to cross a railway and the existing M1, two way single carriageway road.
'The only significant problem here is erosion and stability of the ground. We are concerned about the steepness of some of the slopes in the cuttings, ' says Thompson.
Obvious erosion channels have appeared on cuttings in the earlier contracts, but on this final section cuttings are deeper, at up to 160m, and the danger of slips, albeit purely surface movements, is greater.
'The ground is fairly heterogeneous though mostly layered marls and sandstone, ' he says. As in Greece the material is known as flysch, and in addition there is a fair leavening of former lake sediment gravels.
Cuttings have been widened and drains will be installed as well as additional green landscaping to hold the ground together.
A mixture of old and new Caterpillar rippers, graders and bulldozers are doing most of the earthmoving with German Mann trucks removing the spoil. Concrete works are conventionally done, mainly with wooden carpentered timber formwork.