Romanian, Bulgarian PMs Cross New Danube Bridge

The two neighbours will be more closely linked following completion of the new bridge between Vidin and Calafat.Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his Bulgarian counterpart, Boyko Borisov, were the first two people to officially walk across the almost complete Danube bridge on Wednesday.

The bridge, linking Vidin in Bulgaria and Calafat in Romania, is almost complete now, with adjacent infrastructure, hydro-isolation and the asphalt cover expected to be finished in the coming months, depending on the weather.

“We hope the bridge will become fully operational by next April at the latest,” Ponta said. “We just wanted to stress once again the importance of this bridge for the further development of the local economies”.

Media reports say Bucharest and Sophia will have to open the bridge by the end of this year in order to get EU funds for finishing the work on the infrastructure.

The longest bridge over the Danube, it not only connects traffic, but will also provide Internet connections, and carry electricity lines and other communications.

The biggest challenge for the construction company was digging the foundations 80 meters below the bottom of the river.

The budget for the project is 225.1 million euro, with most of the money coming from European Union funds.

Bulgaria has participated in the project with 60.1 million euro and Romania with some 48 million.

The new bridge, the only one along more than 300km of the Danube, was set to be completed by October 2010.

But its opening was delayed several times owing to technical difficulties.

Bulgaria and Romania possess only a single bridge between Giurgiu and Ruse across their 500-km river border and this is also their sole road connection.

This lone monument to Romanian and Bulgarian Socialist friendship is now over 50 years old and is heavily congested – the two road and rail lanes being wholly inadequate for increased volumes of traffic.

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