Bulgaria-Romania 2nd Danube Bridge 73% Completed
The second bridge linking Bulgaria and Romania across the Danube has been completed at 73%, the Spanish construction firm FCC announced Thursday.
The adjacent infrastructure of the Vidin-Calafat bridge has been completed at 89%, with the so called Danube Bridge 2 expected to be fully operational at the end of 2012.
FCC also said a total of 942 personnel are working on the construction of the bridge between Bulgaria and Romania, including the workers of the subcontractors. 83% of these workers are Bulgarians.
FCC release on Thursday noted the 90th birthday of Stanko Krastev, a local long-time construction worker from Vidin, who marked it by stepping on the new bridge.
In January 2011, the sum of EUR 25.7 M was added to the total cost of the construction of the second bridge linking Bulgaria and Romania across the Danube River, as agreed by the Bulgarian Parliament.
The bridge will finally be completed by the end of November 2012, Bulgaria's Transport Ministry announced as the Bulgarian Parliament voted to approve the measures taken by Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski over the past two years in order to ensure the completion of the bridge between Bulgaria's Vidin and Romania's Calafat.
He explained that the one tangible risk for the completion of Danube Bridge 2 stemmed from unresolved issues under the contract with Spanish company FCC, which is constructing the bridge, as a result of changes in the Bulgarian and Romanian legislation after the EU accession of the two Balkans states and because of unfavorable engineering and geological conditions on the construction site.
The Bulgarian government explained that in order to resolve the issues it agreed on modifications in the design and schedule of the bridge construction, which led FCC to demand additional payments.
After analyzing the claims of the Spanish firm, the Bulgarian government agreed in August 2011 to additional payments amounting to EUR 25.7 M. In order to come up with the money, it resorted to reserve funds under the financial memorandum for EU funding for the bridge, which has not been approved by the Bulgarian Parliament.
The construction of the Vidin-Calafat bridge was set to be completed by October 2010, but has been significantly delayed due to technical difficulties and claims by Spanish firm FCC.
The original push for the construction of a second Danube Bridge between Bulgaria and Romania came as a result of the NATO bombing of Milosevic's Yugoslavia in 1999.
After the campaign subsided, however, the procedures for the bridge dragged on. It was supposed to be ready by 2010 but land expropriation procedures and disputes between the Spanish firm FCC and the governments of Bulgaria and Romania obviously delayed the construction.
When finally completed, Danube Bridge 2 will be third ever bridge in the Bulgarian-Romanian section of the Danube in the past 2000 years.
In the 4th century Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great built the largest river bridge in ancient times, Constantine's Bridge on the Danube, which was 2.5 km long, 6 meters wide, and existed in 328 AD - ca. 355 AD.
The "next" bridge (today's Ruse-Giurgiu Bridge) on the Lower Danube, in the Bulgarian-Romanian section of the river was built only in 1954, about 1 600 years later, at the initiative of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
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