Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Second Danube Bridge Between Bulgaria and Romania Will Be Completed by 2010

Balkan Travellers

26 March 2008 | The long-awaited bridge connecting the cities of Vidin in Bulgaria and Calafat in Romania will be completed by 2010, according to Bulgaria’s transport minister Petar Mutafchiev, quoted by national media.

During a recent meeting with Vidin’s mayor, Mutafchiev also stated that the Spanish company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, which won the bid for the bridge’s construction in January, will begin work in April.

Currently, Bulgaria and Romania are connected by one bridge only: the Danube Bridge, also known as the Bridge of Friendship. Linking the cities of Ruse and Giurgiu respectively, the bridge was constructed in the 1950s.

The remaining nine border crossing points between the two countries consist of seven ferries, including the Vidin-Calafat one, and two inland crossing points near the Black Sea. Despite the introduction of joint border control between Romania and Bulgaria since they joined the EU in January 2007, going across the river by ferry is usually time-consuming and costly.

The project, worth 236 million euro, envisions the construction of a 1,971-metre bridge, featuring two road lanes in each direction, an electric railway and a bicycle path. It would be part of the Pan-European corridor IV.

The idea to construct a second bridge seized the imagination of people on both sides of the border as early as the 1980s. In the 1990s, Bulgarians felt an even greater need for such a bridge, as the wars in former Yugoslavia cut off their way to Central and Western Europe.

The bridge’s construction has been a Bulgarian transport priority for over ten years, with symbolic first digs taking place every few years but numerous delays preventing the production of any concrete results.

It looks like the 2010 deadline may actually be realistic, as many of the important issues surrounding the bridge’s construction – such as the construction firm bid and the land disputes, have already been solved.

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