Danube Bridge 2 linking Vidin on the Bulgarian bank to Calafat in Romania is ready for use, construction inspectors have said, and proceedings appear to be on track for an official opening ceremony on June 14 2013.
The rail link was tested for its capacity to bear the maximum load and speed. Locomotives, goods wagons and 30-ton lorries were used in the tests.
On May 22, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta and European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn agreed to open the Danube Bridge 2 on June 14.
Bulgaria’s caretaker Cabinet approved on April 24 the draft intergovernmental agreement on opening a new checkpoint on the border with Romania at the site of the bridge over the Danube River.
The agreement will allow setting up the checkpoint before the bridge begins operations, the Government’s press service said at the time.
In a separate decision, the Cabinet also approved and put forth for ratification the intergovernmental agreement to set up a joint venture that would operate the bridge.
The idea to build a second bridge over the Danube between Romania and Bulgaria has been proposed for years, but ran into funding difficulties as the two countries dealt with the economic ramifications of transition to a market economy in the 1990s.
Construction became feasible when the EU agreed to provide funding. In the end, the bloc financed a third of the construction costs through its pre-accession aid instrument Ispa, with the final costs at 300 million euro.
Although the bridge was initially to be completed by the end of 2011, the European Commission agreed to extend the deadline by one year, allowing the two countries to use Ispa funding instead of having to foot part of the rising costs themselves.
(Main photo, of Danube Bridge 2 in March 2013: ionutp)