Greek Co to Start Building Bulgaria's Struma Highway in April
The Greek company Aktor and the Bulgarian Road Infrastructure Agency have signed the contract for the construction of Lot 4 of the Struma Highway leading from Sofia to the Bulgaria-Greece border.
The document was signed at a ceremony by the CEO of Aktor Dimitrios Kutrev and the head of the Bulgarian road agency Lazar Lazarov on Monday.
The groundbreaking ceremony of the 15-km Lot 4 of the Struma Highway is scheduled for April 5, 2012; the construction of the road section will cost BGN 59 M, and is supposed to be completed in 23 months.
The construction will require moving the tracks of the Sofia-Kulata railway line as well as building special facilities to protect a number of endangered animal species, including turtoises.
The construction will be funded from the EU Operational Program "Transport" and has to be completed in 25 months.
The Lot 4 section runs from Kulata-Promachonas to the southwestern Bulgarian town of Sandanski.
The construction of Lot 4 of the Struma Highway will also have a positive effect on the Sofia-Kulata railway because it will necessitate a change of the route of a 3.3-km railroad section.
The new railway route will be transferred to a straight section that will allow the trains to go at a speed of 160 km/h, which is about the highest speed that can be reached by trains in Bulgaria.
The total cost of the Struma Highway – from Sofia to Greece – is estimated to be about EUR 1.1 B. The total length of the highway is slightly over 173 km.
The Struma Highway starts at the Daskalovo road junction to the west of Sofia, where it will be connected with the short Lyulin Highway, and will run to the Kulata border crossing on the Bulgarian border with Greece. Some of the sections of the 156-km road are promised to be completed by the end of the Borisov Cabinet's term in 2013. A total of 19 km have been completed so far.
Lot 2 (from Dupnitsa to Simitli, 45 km) and Lot 3 (from Simitli to Sandanski, 60 km) will be harder to build because of the rough terrain, and the Borisov Cabinet has made it clear it plans to complete Lots 1 and 4 by the end of its term in 2013, and to have made progress on the other two.
The Struma Highway is a priority for the Bulgarian government in 2011 because of the importance of the traffic and economic ties with Greece, and because it is a part of Pan-European Transport Corridor No. 4 (from Central Europe to Thessaloniki and Athens via Vidin and Sofia).
The highway will be the first one in Bulgaria to feature special facilities for wild animals such as bears and hares.
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