Sofia: Boulevard Dondukov reopened after long drama

Written by on November 18, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Sofia: Boulevard Dondukov reopened after long drama

In the Bulgarian capital Sofia, a long drama is almost over, at least for now. Boulevard Dondukov, an important traffic artery, was finally opened again last night. This means the traffic flow in parts of the city centre should improve, at least to some extent.

Before the refurbishment of Dondukov finally started with a big delay, on July 3, the boulevard was in a terrible state. The tram tracks were falling apart. Passengers on tram lines 20, 22 and 23 were shaken like a Daiquiri, which is why all trams had to move slowly.

The cobble stone part for the car traffic was rubble as well. Potholes, as deep as the Grand Canyon, did not exactly contribute to the comfort of passengers in any vehicles. That is why Sofia Municipality developed a brilliant idea: They decided to have Boulevard Dondukov repaired.

Believe it or not: Trams were actually back on Dondukov on Saturday morning. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

Big discussions delayed the whole thing. The inhabitants wanted Dondukov asphalted. So did the Mayor. But the Ministry of Culture thought the character of the Bulgarian capital would suffer. So they decided the boulevard would have to be covered with cobble stone.

For that reason, Sofia Municipality at some point said, there could not be any bike lane. But two weeks later they stated they would have bike lanes added anyway. Those were built on one side only, for both directions. According to critics, that kind of solution poses dangers.

During the long repair, residents living right on Boulevard Dondukov said they felt “all of Sofia is closed”. This had to do with the way pedestrians were treated. During the repairs they had to walk up to one kilometre, in order to be able to cross the street, depending on their exact location.

Only the sidewalks and street lamps need more work. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

On some stretches of the street, pedestrians just walked across the construction site, bypassing moving trucks, steamrollers and piles of material. Ladies wearing high heels, and everyone else, would have to walk through sand and mud. A big mess.

Boulevard Dondukov was supposed to be ready on September 15, on the first day of school. The municipality even organised a beach volleyball match, right on the boulevard, in order to celebrate the end of the construction work.

But the reopening had to be postponed a million times. At some point, October 31 was the day, but that one was scrapped too, as The Sofia Globe accurately predicted on October 23.

Now, the street is finally open, while work on the pavement continues. Also, lamps still have to be installed.

The reopening of Boulevard Dondukov will improve traffic on Boulevard Czar Osvoboditel, Boulevard Vassil Levski, Raikovski Street, Boulevard General Nikolaev and Boulevard Slivnitsa. The ‘TM20’ bus line, which connected the interrupted tram lines, was just scrapped.

Oh, wait a minute: The longest part of Boulevard Dondukov did not get cobble stones after all, but a smooth asphalt surface. This applies from the intersection with Raikovski Street all the way to the eastern end of Dondukov. What this means is that most of the long discussion, which led to delays in summer, was useless.

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com