The constructing projects of highway "Hemus" in the section from Yablanitsa to Lovech, the construction of Lot 3 of highway "Struma" in the subsections Blagoevgrad – Krupnik and Kresna – Sandanski as well as the section Plovdiv – Orizovo and Burgas junction from the project for the modernization of the railway line Plovdiv – Burgas are in the final phase of preparation. The construction works can start in the spring next year. The technical preparation in the other sections of these sites is ongoing, as well as the work on the preparation of the other priority projects under the program. That was said yesterday by the Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Nikolina Angelkova during the presentation of the new Operational Program "Transport and Transport Infrastructure" 2014 - 2020 in the presence of representatives of NGOs, businesses and the local and executive authorities. In her words, it will be possible provided there is a compromise and a consensus at national level for the proposed priority projects.
"It is not easy for us to make a prioritization of the projects which are going to be implemented in the new programming period, but it is necessary to consider the available financial resources", said Minister Nikolina Angelkova. Currently the program budget is about 1.9 billion euros with national co-financing and projects included in it as of June have a total value of around 4 billion euros. A prioritization based on continuity of the investments made from the OP "Transport" the 2007 – 2013 was made last month. This prioritization is consistent with the principles of European regional policy convergence regions and with the needs of the Bulgarian regions, the project readiness and the complexity of the project by keeping the balance between road and railway infrastructure, and the development balance between North and South Bulgaria.
In the railway sector, a priority will be the completion of the directions on the Serbian - Turkish / Greek border and Plovdiv - Burgas. The programming period 2014 - 2020 includes the modernization projects of the rest of the route Plovdiv - Burgas and sections Elin Pelin - Ihtiman and Ihtiman - Septemvri. Minister Angelkova explained that the section Dragoman – Sofia – Elin Pelin will be financed under the Connecting Europe Facility, so that the route can be completed. It provides 406 million Euro (including national co-financing) for Bulgaria, which will be used for rail and water projects. The railway route Vidin - Medkovets and the project to improve navigation on the Danube River are being prepared for application via CEF. "The total value of the railway projects under the program is about 1 billion Euro, not including funds under the Connecting Europe Facility, so reduction in investments in the railway infrastructure is not an issue", added Nikolina Angelkova.
"We have not stopped the work on Lot 3 of Struma Highway, which is a major priority in the road sector in the programming period 2014-2020", Minister Angelkova pointed out. Subdivisions 3.1 (Blagoevgrad - Krupnik) and 3.3 (Kresna - Sandanski) are practically ready, thus the construction could start next year. Section 3.2, which covers the Kresna Gorge, is currently being designed as a tunnel that passes through protected areas. According to national law, before announcing a tender for its construction, an environmental impact assessment for the construction of the facility shall be conducted. For this reason, we proposed to the European Commission that we should develop and alternative option for passing the Kresna gorge, which will have to strictly follow the existing road and together with the tunnel project it will get an evaluation of the consequences to the environment. Thus, a speed road, allowing 100 km/h, can be built, and the indicative value of the project can be reduced by about 270 million euros. "It is important to point out that we are actively building the tunnel and the development of the alternative will not delay the project. We rely greatly on NGOs to consult us on each stage of the preparation of the two options, so we can choose the best solution that can later be submitted for approval to the Commission”, added Nikolina Angelkova.
"Projects for the construction of highway “Kalotina – Sofia” and the road Sofia - Vidin are extremely important, but we do not have sufficient financial resources. Therefore, we seek other options for their construction, including an EIB loan, but we are adamant that they should be finished as soon as possible", said the Transport Minister. In her words, in order to maintain a balance of investments and a chance for development in Northern Bulgaria it is proposed to the European Commission the whole “Hemus” project to be included in the scope of the OP "Transport and transport infrastructure". The section from Jablanica to the road Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo is to be financed with EU funds and the remainder to Belokopitovo - with a loan from the EIB. "The truth is that building highway "Hemus" could begin next year, as there are no complicated tunnels and the route doesn’t cross territories included in project NATURA. All this makes the project a very realistic option for fast absorption of funds under the new operational program, "said Nikolina Angelkova. Another priority in the road sector is the construction of the tunnel under Shipka peak.
“Being one of the most successful projects the whole of the third metro diameter is included in the new programming period”, announced Nikolina Angelkova. In the period 2014-2020, the works on the section from Yanko Sakazov Blvd. to residential area Krasno Selo will be a priority.
Together with Jaspers the authorities are working towards the development of a Multimodal transport strategy, which is a precondition to the Partnership Agreement with the EC. It was also proposed that through the Technical Assistance Program the EIB could develop a strategy for road infrastructure charging (i.e. toll system). Minister Angelkova pointed out that it is of significant importance, as the state will collect information on the foreseen amount of traffic along each of the lines. “This is a major document that enables us to seek public-private partnership, as investors are interested in the opportunities for return of investment”, she added.
The participants in the meeting welcomed the transparent and open manner in the preparation of OP “Transport and Transport Infrastructure”.