Brand New Bulgaria-Romania Danube Bridge Is 'Falling Apart'
A check of Bulgarian Transport Ministry has identified 20 serious defects on the brand new Danube Bridge 2, Transport Minister Danail Papazov has reported.
Several days ago, a large pothole gapped in the middle of the bridge, which was paved only 4 months ago, in the traffic lane from Romania to Bulgaria.
Experts then assessed the condition of the bridge only to find out that it already has a number of potholes and other flaws.
"I do not understand why media talk about a pothole on Danube Bridge 2, when it comes to many potholes and a whole series of problems," acknowledged Papazov.
The Minister stated that obvious problems also included many cracks due to poor drainage of the bridge, causing water to leak under the asphalt. He stressed the damage will be even more serious in the winter when the water freezes.
"If it can be comforting, the Romanian part is in worse condition," said Papazov.
The check further established problems with lighting and malfunctioning traffic lights. So far, the Minister is not optimistic that he can bring back for fixes the contractor, the Spanish company FCC, as its works have been certified by serious local and international committees.
"I did not see a clause in the contract with the builders to include warranty, which could give us the right to request correction of serious defects," says Papazov.
The bridge was paved in April and launched in mid-June 2013.
Danube Bridge 2, linking Vidin in Bulgaria and Calafat in Romania, is part of the Pan-European transport corridor IV.
The total value of the project is EUR 282 M. Of them EUR 106 M came from EU funds and the rest were national financing and private investments.
The project was started in the late 1990s, but was stalled multiple times.
The only other existing bridge between the two Balkan neighbors, Danube Bridge 1 linking Ruse-Giurgiu, was completed in 1954.
In February 2013, officials stated that Danube Bridge II would be inaugurated on May 9, the Day of Europe, but the ceremony was postponed.
The final section of the bridge was finished in October 2012 and the entire construction between the Bulgarian and the Romanian Danube shores was connected. It was announced earlier that the infrastructure has been completed as of the end of August 2012.
Over 415 000 vehicles are expected to pass through the bridge in its first year of operation – 186 000 cars, 20 000 buses, 209 000 trucks as well as 4 745 trains – 730 passenger and 4 015 freight ones. Their number is expected to reach 8 504 by 2030.
The facility will pay off in 12 to 15 years, according to Bulgarian authorities.
The bridge is 1.8 km long and has four lanes, a railroad, a sidewalk, and a bike path.
There is a cross border checkpoint as well.
The toll is the same as the one in Ruse – from EUR 6 to EUR 37, depending on the type of vehicle.
There are no fees for pedestrians, bikers, fire trucks, ambulances and police cruisers.
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The bridge building topic is just an example. The point is the problem of corruption that ate societies. Unfortunately we can also find examples elsewhere - even in the so-called Western Countries. However the level, how corruption have serious impact on the societies is really unacceptable at the Balkans. I am not sure that these countries are in fact the position and can reduce the problem alone.