A day after the collapse of a motorway bridge in the Italian city of Genoa that cost at least 39 lives, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov ordered two of his Cabinet ministers to find a way to carry out bridge repairs across the country simultaneously rather than one at a time.
Speaking at a regular meeting of his Cabinet on August 15, Borissov – who a day earlier cabled condolences to his Italian counterpart on the Genoa tragedy – ordered Regional Development Minister Nikolai Nankov and Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski to come up a new approach to repair motorway bridges in Bulgaria.
“You know, since the bridges in Bulgaria were built, they have not been repaired on the motorways, we have bridges higher than 120 metres and at the moment we are reinforcing them and carrying out basic repairs, on Trakiya and Vitniya, according to plan,” Borissov said, according to a transcript of the Cabinet meeting released by the government media service.
“I want a solution so that instead of doing them one by one, we go in and we do all the bridges,” he said.
Repairs to road and related infrastructure on Bulgarian motorways began a few years ago.
In 2017, the state of motorway tunnels was highlighted after a February accident n which part of a light fitting in the Echemishka tunnel in northern Bulgaria came loose, falling on a passing car and killing a 64-year-woman.
The accident led to the ordering of an inspection, which established that 16 of 34 tunnels checked by Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency posed a moderate to high risk of accidents.
There has been work on high bridges on Trakiya Motorway, with reports at the time exposing the fact that there had been serious problems with them after decades in which no major repairs had been done.
In the Genoa case, the cause of the tragedy, in which close to 40 vehicles plunged more than 40 m as the bridge collapse amid a violent storm, has not been officially established. By August 15, recriminations over how the accident happened were gaining momentum.