Danube's Calafat Bridge complete by 2010

Bucharest Daily News, 27th June 2006

The construction of the train and auto traffic bridge involves the investment of approximately 317 million euros, according to Romanian and Bulgarian transportation ministers. The Romanian party must pay 51 million euros for the connection of the road and railway infrastructure of the bridge to the structure on the Romanian bank of the river, explained the Transportation Minister Radu Berceanu at a meeting with Bulgarian counterpart Petar Mutafchiev.
Bulgaria will have to provide funds totaling 266 million euros. The project is being co-financed by the European Union's ISPA program, the European Investment Bank, the Agence Francaise de Developpement and the German Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau - KfW banking group (totalling up to 165 million euros), together with the government of Bulgaria. According to the common declaration of the two officials, the agreement regarding construction procedures will be signed on July 4th in Bucharest. After the ratification of the agreement by the parliaments of the two countries on September 15th, the offer of the five companies interested in becoming the contractors of the project will be opened.
The winner of the tender will be made public at the end of the year at the latest and construction work should start on May 2007.
The Vidin-Calafat Bridge over the Danube will provide an important link in the transport infrastructure of both Bulgaria and Romania, and will form part of the southern branch of the pan-European transport Corridor IV.
The construction has not yet begun, but the population is enthusiastic about it. For the people of Vidin, this bridge is the bridge of hope, says the Mayor of Vidin, Ivan Tsenov.
The bridge in itself is not be so important to the development of Carafat as what will be built around the bridge, said the mayor of Calafat, Petre Traistaru. It is anticipated that trade between the two countries will directly create one thousand jobs and inject 57 million euros into the local economies.
This would be the second bridge over the Danube after the one in Giurgiu-Ruse and will have four lanes and a railway track.
The Calafat-Vidin project was delayed because of the European Commission, which at first refused to endorse the tender conditions stalling the beginning of procedures.
The Commission eventually approved the tender procedures on May 25, so one of the interested short-listed construction firms that have already been approved by Brussels to participate will be selected.
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov proposed, on the occasion of his visit to Romania in November 2005, that at least two new bridges should be constructed over the Danube in the following 20 years, namely in Nikopol-Turnu Magurele and Silistra-Kylarash. "We have to have a bridge over the Danube everywhere the movement of people and goods request it," said Parvanov.
Minster Berceanu and counterpart Mutafchiev also discussed yesterday the creation of a common air traffic control system in Eastern Europe which should result in a 30 percent tariff decrease for this kind of service, and consequently, of tickets.
Bulgaria and Romania have the real chance of creating a system for the assistance of air traffic in Eastern Europe. Both countries have competitive systems but they currently work separately," said Berceanu. According to the Romanian official, the national companies in charge of air traffic control, Bulgarian ATSA and Romanian ROMATSA, who have been negotiating the common project for the last few months, and an agreement is expected in the near future. Berceanu explained that there were yet a few points in which the two parties disagreed pertaining to Defense and Foreign Affairs issues. As soon as an agreement is reached, the two ministers will present it to the European Commission.
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