More than a week since the opening of Danube Bridge 2, between Romania and Bulgaria, many drivers could not find it because of missing road signs, private Bulgarian station bTV has reported; the report is the latest in a series of criticisms that claim that the opening of the bridge between Vidin and Calafat was rushed and went ahead before the adjacent infrastructure was finished.
The only road signs were at the entrance of Vidin – after crossing the town, no further directions to the bridge have been posted, only signs pointing towards the ferry line, which has been shut down after the bridge started operations, bTV said.
The report quoted an employee of a roadside service station saying that he had to give directions to lost drivers every day.
The missing road signs is just one of the issues that have plagued the bridge during its first week of operation. Earlier, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported that drivers could not buy road use stickers, known as vignettes, for either country.
On Jun 19, a long queue of lorries had formed as a result of an inspection by Romanian financial police, BNT said. A long line was reported again on June 23 because of checks on the Romanian side, news agency Focus reported.
Despite these issues, lorry drivers preferred to use the bridge rather than any of several ferry boat lines linking the Bulgarian and Romanian shores of the Danube River – the reason is that crossing the bridge currently carries no fee.
The authorities will start charging for crossing the bridge on July 1. The fees, agreed earlier this month by the two governments, will range from six euro (for cars, mini-vans and cargo vehicles of up to 3.5 tonnes in weight) to 37 euro (for four-wheeler lorries). Three months into the bridge’s operations, the fees will be reviewed, according to Bulgarian authorities.
So far, the bridge appears to have drawn the lorry traffic that used the ferry boat lines over the Danube River, threatening to put such lines out of business, bTV said.
However, traffic over the older bridge between Rousse and Giurgiu has not diminished, it has even increased as Eastern European tourists heading to Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts prefer crossing at Rousse than making a detour to Danube Bridge 2, which is further upstream, bTV said.
(Photo of Danube Bridge 2 in March 2013: ionutp)