MOTORWAYS TO BE GRANTED ON CONCESSION
The completion of the Trakiya motorway is a priority of the Government in the sphere of road construction, Alben Rodopmanov, Executive Director of the Roads Executive Agency announced. The total length of Trakiya's uncompleted section - from Orizovo to Bourgas - is 189.14 km. Financing has already been ensured: a loan of EUR100MN from the European Investment Bank, guaranteed by the State, and co-financiang on the part of Bulgaria, amounting to some BGL280MN. Co-financing will be effected with the money, collected from the fees on liquid fuels in the accounts of the Roads Executive Agency at the Bulgarian National Bank.The construction of the Trakiya motorway will be completed in two stages. The first one includes the sections Orizovo - Stara Zagora (37.94 km) and Karnobat - Bourgas (33.20 km). A procedure for picking out a chief contractor for the first section is currently going on. Tender dossiers have been purchased by 63 firms, and more than 30 have filed offers.Construction of the two sections should begin in the first half of 2002 and is to be completed within 30 months - i.e. by the end of 2004. Concurrently, procedures will be held for choosing sub-contractors for the completion of the motorway: the sections Stara Zagora - Nova Zagora (32.35 km), Nova Zagora - the road fork Sliven/Yambol (35.05 km), and from there to Karnobat (50.05 km). According to Mr. Rodopmanov, the year 2007 is the real deadline for completing the overall construction of the Trakiya motorway.The construction of the Strouma motorway from the road junction of Daskalovo to Doulovo (156 km) is still in the Cabinet's investment plans. However, the implementation of this project has already been postponed, despite the fact that the traffic along the existing A-class road from Sofia to the Greek border is comparable to the traffic along the Trakiya and Maritsa motorways. The reason for the postponement are the serious problems because of the protests of ecological organisations, which claim that the construction of the motorway would considerably upset the environmental balance in the Kresna gorge.Feasibility studies by the Italian consulting company SPEA are currently in progress and should be completed by the year-end. Financing of EUR3.87Mn has been ensured by the EU PHARE Programme. SPEA is working out several versions in order to satisfy all freaks of ecologists.The Government announced it would demand in 2002 a free financial aid of EUR110MN from the pre-accession EU ISPA Programme for the construction of two sections of Strouma motorway (Daskalovo - Doupnitsa and Kresna - Koulata).The mini-motorway Lyulin (17 km) can be viewed as an extension of Strouma, but unlike it it is a priority of the Government. Lyulin begins at teh road junction of Daskalovo, passes through Malo Bouchino and Golyamo Bouchino, and ends in the Sofia Souhodol quarter. As per the efasibility studies of SPEA. Lyulin will be the most expensive section (the average price per 1 constructed kilometer has been pre-estimated at around EUR5.5MN).Due to low traffic (about 4,000 vehicles per day) teh Hemus motorway dropped from the Cabinet's investment programme. Some 120 km (Sofia - Yablanitsa and Kaspichan - Varna) of Hemus are used now. Another 37 km (Yablanitsa - Boaza and Kaspichan - Belokopitovo) are to be completed next year. The remaining 300 km will be thought about when the time comes.The Cherno More motorway also remained outside the State's long-term investment priorities. Only 8.1 km of it have been constructed so far.The Minister of Construction and Public Works Kostadin Paskalev assured that a special commission has alerady been set up to draft and file to the Cabinet by end-December a concept for granting the motorways on concession and for the gradual introduction of road tolls for motorways and for A-class roads.