Officials in Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv have begun checking the safety of the road tunnel that runs underneath the landmark Ancient Theatre.
The tunnel was dug in the 1950s and was last refurbished in 1995. It is beneath the Ancient Theatre that dates from the first century CE.
The check on the tunnel is among inspections that Plovdiv officials are carrying out between February 15 and 17 on tunnels, bridges, underpasses and overpasses in the city.
The safety of road facilities in Bulgaria, such as tunnels and bridges, has been in the spotlight in recent days after an accident in the Echemishka tunnel on Hemus Motorway earlier in February, in which a woman died after the car in which she was travelling was hit by a falling large light fixture.
Traffic through the tunnel under Plovdiv’s Ancient Theatre will be restricted until the inspection is complete. The check began at 10am on February 15 and was expected to be completed by about 4pm.
The deputy mayor of Plovdiv’s central region, Tosho Pashov, whose portfolio is construction, said that the check of the tunnel would be comprehensive, with a visual inspection and a specific test of the security of the structure that holds in place the metal suspension of the lighting system.
On February 16, there will be a check of the underpass in Gladstone Street near Plovdiv’s central post office. During this time, there will also be traffic restrictions.
Two teams of experts are carrying out the checks, one inspecting tunnels and the other overpasses and bridges. In the latter case, problems are not expected, because all of these had been renovated in recent years, Pashov said.
A report will be compiled after all the inspections are completed and the city administration will take steps if problems are found, he said.
(Photo of the Ancient Theatre: Dennis Jarvis, and of the road tunnel, screenshot via BNT)