Bulgaria Rushes to Build Highway from Sofia to Serbian Border
The highway connecting Bulgaria’s capital Sofia with the Kalotina border crossing on the Serbian border will be ready by 2015, announced Bozhidar Yotov, head of the Road Infrastructure Agency.
Yotov spoke Thursday after the first meeting of a special working group, during which Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov demanded from several ministries, the road agency, and several municipalities that the highway from Sofia to Kalotina should be constructed before Serbia can build its own section to the Bulgarian border, the extension of the Belgrade-Nis Highway.
The newly-founded working group for “shock” highway construction includes deputy ministers of regional development, transport, environment, agriculture, the head of the Road Infrastructure Agency, the Governors of the Sofia City District and the Sofia District, the Chief Architect of Sofia Petar Dikov, and the mayors of the towns of Slinitsa and Dragoman.
The working group is required to draft an action plan for highway construction by the end of September.
In addition to building the Sofia-Kalotina Highway (which is considered an extension of the still uncompleted Trakiya Highway linking Sofia with Burgas on the Black Sea coast), the working group will also focus on completing two vital sections of the Sofia Beltway, announced Sofia Architect Petar Dikov.
In his words, the total cost of the three highway projects will be EUR 380 M, and the funding will come from the EU Operational Program Transport.
“We have managed to convince the European Commission of the need to finance these projects with European money. Our major argument for that is that the northern tangent of Sofia is a crossing point of three Pan-European transport corridors – Corridor 4, Corridor 8, and Corridor 10. There is no such other road section elsewhere in Europe that we know of,” declared the Road Infrastructure Agency head Yotov.
The first project, the Sofia-Kalotina highway, will be about 49 km in length. The second one is the connection from the future Lyulin Highway to the “northern tangent” of Sofia, i.e. the western section of the Sofia Beltway, which is 9.6 km long; the third project is the northern high-speed section of the beltway, known as “the northern tangent,” which will be about 16.5 km.
According to Sofia Architect Petar Dikov, the construction of the second project will cost about EUR 50 M but it should be completed by mid 2012 at the latest as by that time the Lyulin Highway will be ready, thus channeling additional traffic into the city of Sofia.
In his words, the northern section of the Sofia Beltway must be completed by September 2014; the road project has already been granted a positive environmental assessment.
The plans for the construction of the Sofia-Kalotina highway date back to 1993. They are to be updated (some of the used maps are said to read “People’s Republic of Bulgaria) so that the construction can soon.
Dikov has pointed out that the highway to the Serbian border will not be directed towards the Kalotina border crossing point but will go around it as by the time the highway is completed, Serbia will have joined the European Union, and a border crossing will not be necessary.
He reminded the case with the Ilinden border crossing on the Bulgarian-Greek border, in which Bulgaria invested EUR 4.5 M in vain as it became an EU member before the project was completed, and the border control with Greece became more relaxed.
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