Bulgaria, Romania open long-awaited second Danube bridge

2013-06-18 15:45

Vidin - Bulgaria and Romania on Friday opened a long-delayed, European Union-funded bridge over the Danube -- just the second crossing along their 470-kilometre river border.

"I strongly hope that this bridge will give an impulse to the economic development of the two regions on both sides of the river," Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said at the inauguration of the bridge that links Vidin in Bulgaria's northeast and the Romanian town of Calafat.

The ceremony was attended by Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta and European Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn as the 282-million-euro construction was partly funded with money from an EU aid programme.

The bridge is part of the pan-European transport corridor IV running southeast from the German cities of Dresden and Nuremberg to then fork to Constanta in Romania, Thessaloniki in Greece and Istanbul in Turkey.

Previously, Bulgaria and Romania were only linked by a single bridge further east along the Danube.

The project for a second link was first conceived in the 1990s, when the war in Yugoslavia blocked traffic from Western Europe to Asia via the Balkans.

It took until 2007 to ensure funding and contract a builder -- Spanish Company FCC Construccion -- which wrapped up construction in six years.

With a length of 1 791 metres, the new cable-stayed steel-and-concrete bridge is the longest structure along the Danube. It has four lanes for cars, a rail section and bike lanes.

The link is particularly welcome in Bulgaria's northwest -- officially the poorest region in the European Union -- which pins its hopes on it to boost economic activity, travel and trade and ease unemployment.

All traffic between Vidin and Calafat was previously shipped over the Danube by ferry and the bridge is expected to significantly reduce travel time for both passengers and freight.

Read more on:    travel international

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