Fri 26 October 2007 15:51
Bulgaria Inks Danube Bridge Infrastructure Deal
Bulgaria signed on Friday the deal with Spain's FCC Construccion to build the road and railway infrastructure on the Bulgarian side of the second bridge over Danube linking the EU's two newest member states.
The Spanish firm will have to build 15 kilometres of railway, complete with the electrical wiring, plus a cargo station and upgrade the existing passenger station.
FCC Construcction will have until end-2010 to complete the works and will be paid EUR 62,6 M for them. The firm won the EUR 100 M tender to build the bridge proper earlier this year.
The total costs of the project are estimated at EUR 236 M and will be funded largely with money from ISPA programmes of the EU, from the European Investment Bank and other international financial institutions.
British firm High-Point Rendel will be paid EUR 2,7 M to supervise the execution of the contract, Bulgarian deputy transport minister Vessela Gospodinova told reporters at the signing ceremony.
Bulgaria's cabinet hopes to complete the buyout of the land that will be used for the project by the end of the year, she added.
The bridge will link the Bulgarian Danube port of Vidin to the Romanian city of Calafat by road and rail. It is a key element of a European transport corridor from the German city of Dresden to Istanbul in Turkey.
The facility will be 1971 meter-long, including a road and a rail bridges with two lanes in each direction as well as one railway track.
Bulgaria and Romania, which both joined the European Union on January 1, signed an agreement to build the Vidin-Calafat bridge in 2000, but various obstacles delayed the project.
Infrastructure at 2nd Bulgaria-Romania Danube Bridge 90% Completed
The second bridge linking Bulgaria and Romania across the Danube has been completed at 81%, the Spanish construction firm FCC announced Monday.
The adjacent infrastructure of the Vidin-Calafat bridge has been completed more than 90%, with the so called Danube Bridge 2 expected to be fully operational at the end of 2012.
The builders have already launched into operation some of the road junction at the bridge, and have completed the international passenger and freight railway terminals in Vidin.
FCC said that "if the weather is nice", the bridge will be fully completed by the end of 2012 but "if the temperatures during the winter months do not allow this, the final layer of asphalt and hydroisolation will be left for 2013".
The company also pointed out that the total price of the bridge is EUR 232 M. Of those, the Bulgarian Finance Ministry has already paid EUR 190 M.
On the Romanian side, the adjacent infrastructure of the bridge has been completed at 95%.
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.