Bulgaria’s Regional Development Minister Dessislava Terzieva officially unveiled the new road stretch between Kurdjali and Podkova in southeastern Bulgaria on February 4, meant to offer a shorter and improved route to the Makaza-Komotini border checkpoint with Greece.
The 24km road stretch will shorten the route by 15km, the regional development ministry said. Additionally, the project included the modernisation of an eight-kilometre road stretch between Kurdjali and Djebel.
However, the opening came following a three-month delay, caused by work to reinforce a bridge and an area with a high risk of landslides. The additional work raised the costs of the project from 32 million leva (about 16.4 million euro) to 54 million leva (27.6 million euro), Bulgarian news website Mediapool.bg reported.
The new road stretch is expected to lead to an increase in heavy cargo traffic, but lorry drivers will have to wait some time still for the final piece of the puzzle – the ring-road around the town of Kurdjali, which will divert heavy traffic that currently is forced to pass through the town centre.
A draft project for the ring-road has already been approved, with technical specifications expected to be detailed by the end of February and work scheduled to begin later this year, Bulgarian broadcaster Darik Radio reported, quoting Kurdjali district governor Bisser Nikolov.
The project will cost 240 million leva (122.7 million euro) and the funding is expected to come mainly under EU’s operational programme for transport, he said.
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(The Makaza-Komotini checkpoint offers a more direct route to traffic that is now forced to use other crossings, such as at Zlatograd. Photo: stanimir.stoyanov/flickr.com)