In spite of what appeared to be the last gasp of unseasonably warm autumn weather, the winter season officially started on November 5 2012, with the Bulgarian Road Infrastructure Agency saying that road cleaning companies were 90 per cent ready for snow clearing.
Snow removal companies have been told to be ready 24 hours a day.
Countrywide, there are more than 3600 snow cleaning machines to keep the national road network clear.
In a major change to the rules for road cleaning this year, companies have been told not to use sand to treat road surfaces, but salt to minus seven degrees Celsius and chemicals for temperatures below that.
The Road Infrastructure Agency urged motorists to change to winter tyres and to drive at speeds appropriate to road conditions.
A budget of 50 million leva (about 25 million euro) has been set aside to pay companies contracted to carry out winter road cleaning. Twenty-eight companies have contracts with the Road Infrastructure Agency for road clearing.
Companies that fail to respond to carry out road cleaning as required will be sanctioned, authorities said. Even before snow falls, they are required to treat roads so that snow does not stick to surfaces.
The Road Infrastructure Agency said that half of the problems in road cleaning last year were the result of lack of good communication, and so this year inspections of companies’ readiness began in September this year.
Speaking on October 27, Regional Development and Public Works Minister Lilyana Pavlova said “winter cannot surprise us”.
She said that there were enough materials for clearing roads of snow, including the required minimum 60 per cent stock of sale and chemicals. “We are fully ready to start processing road surfaces,” Pavlova said, adding that the first checks of the readiness of companies’ equipment and materials had been completed, although at that point there was still not the required number of snow cleaning machines, she said.