SOFIA (Reuters) - Balkan neighbors Bulgaria and Romania aim to build a second bridge over the Danube, connecting Bulgaria’s Ruse and Romania’s Giorgiu in an attempt to improve infrastructure connectivity in the region and attract more foreign investment.
The existing 63-year-old bridge is struggling to cope with the heavy traffic with data showing that more than 1.37 million vehicles crossed it in the first eight months of 2017, compared to about 750,000 in the same period last year.
The new 3-km construction, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the Balkans, will be the third bridge, connecting Bulgaria and Romania over the Danube along their shared 470-km river border.
Experts say the construction of the new bridge would cost about 250 million euros ($293.9 million).
“I am convinced that a third bridge will boost business and tourism,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said after meeting his Romanian counterpart Mihai Tudose at a joint intergovernmental meeting between the two cabinets in the Black Sea city of Varna.
Borissov said the two countries are also looking for investors for two more infrastructure projects - a bridge over the Danube, connecting Bulgaria’s Nikopol and Romania’s Turnu Magurele, as well as a 200-km motorway, linking Romania’s Black Sea city of Constanta with the Bulgarian ports of Varna and Burgas.
Tudose expressed his optimism that Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the European Union in 2007, would be admitted to the bloc’s passport-free Schengen travel zone, describing the two countries as “islands of safety for citizens”.
Bulgaria takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency as of January while Romania will assume the role in 2019.
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Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Ed Osmond