News 20 Jul 12

Romania Opens New Highways After Years of Delay

Romania has taken another step toward in extending its small network of motorways.

Marian Chiriac

Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Thursday inaugurated around 50 new kilometres of new roads on two different highways in southern Romania.

“After so many delays in the past, we are happy now to open new roads connecting Bucharest with ts surrounding areas”, Ponta said, cutting the ribbon of the new A3 highway, even though parking areas and other facilities, such as gas stations, have not yet been completed.

Work on the highway, connecting the capital with city of Ploiesti, on the way to the Carpathian mountains, started in 2007 and was supposed to be complete by 2010, but its finalization was delayed several times.

The total cost of the work was 450 million euro.

The government previously announced that it would apply penalties of some 3 million euro for any delays.

Ponta blamed part of the delays on so-called “smart guys” who learned about the course of the future highway and bought multiple properties nearby, seeking compensation payments afterwards.

Latter on Thursday, Ponta opened the last segments, including a bypass road, on the A2, or “Sun Motorway”, (Autostrada Soarelui), a higway linking Bucharest to Constanta, a port on the Black Sea.

The 204km-long road is now complete and fully operational, making it easier to get to the seaside for people wishing to spend holidays on the Black Sea.

Construction of the A2 began in the Communist era, under Nicolae Ceausescu's regime. The first section of about 18km opened in 1987.

After the fall of Communism, construction continued for a short time but ground to a halt in 1993 due to lack of funding. It resumed in 1998.

With less than 500 km of completed motorway, Romania lags behind the state-of-the-art road infrastructure common in many parts of Western Europe.

Years of neglect, bad management and lack of funding have deprived the country of the economic growth associated with faster and easier cross-country transit routes.

Now, with help from the European Union, the government hopes to improve the situation, even while other sectors suffer deep cuts as part of the austerity measures imposed to help Romania recover from the global financial crisis.

Bucharest says it plans to spend 4 billion euro in the next couple of years on 289km of new motorways. Another 5 billion euro for highway construction will come from the EU’s transport operational programme, according to official data.

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