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News 23 Aug 17

Italians and Chinese Compete to Build Romanian Bridge

Two Italian-Japanese and Chinese-led consortiums are competing to build a 500-million-euros bridge over the Danube in Romania - the biggest infrastructure project the country has seen in decades. 

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
A computer generated image of the 528 million euro project. Photo: cnadnr.ro

Romania is set to begin construction of its largest infrastructure project in 27 years, a bridge over the Danube in eastern Romania, with two Italian and Chinese-led large groups competing for the prize of the 528-million-euros contract.

The bridge in the Braila area is set to become one of the top five largest in Europe. It is meant to ease domestic traffic, but also make the land transport between the Balkans and Poland, Ukraine and Russia easier.

Currently, drivers who want to cross the Danube in the area of Braila have either to use the boat, or take a 100-kilometre detour to cross the river on the bridge in Giurgeni-Vadu Oii, built in 1971.

The government has postponed the investment for 16 years. The first study was done in 2001 by Japan’s External Trade Organization, JETRO, at the request of the government in Bucharest. The then Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, intended to get a loan from Japan to build the bridge.

But the initiative fell through in 2003 due to political disagreements over the source of funding for the project, with some ministers opposing a loan from Japan.

The project was revived in 2014, and, after an update feasibility study completed last year, the Romanian Ministry of Transport announced the public tender on May 1, 2017.

By the August 22 deadline, two large consortiums had submitted bids for the six–year project, which the EU Regional Development Fund is financing.

The bridge is set to be almost two kilometres long and 32 metres wide. The project includes 25 kilometres of road that links the bridge to national road infrastructure.

Italian construction group Astaldi SpA, one of the biggest European construction companies that is already involved in large infrastructure projects across Romania, including the expansion of the Bucharest subway, has formed a partnership with Japan’s  IHI Infrastructure Systems, which specializes in bridges, dam gates, river gates, and makes sells, and installs disaster prevention equipment. The Japanese company is also competing for the Mumbai Trans Harbor Link.

The other cluster of companies that submitted an offer for the project is a Chinese-Romanian-Spanish consortium.

China Communication Construction Company, the leading company, is a state-owned infrastructure firm specializing in ports, roads, and bridges. It is already working in several locations in the Balkans, including the E763 highway on a bridge across Sava and Kolubara rivers vicinity of Obrenovac, Serbia.

One of the other partners, the China Road and Bridge Corporation, has shown interest in the project since 2004. 

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