By Daniel Stroe –Bucharest
The 370 km highway linking the Western border town of Nadlac to the city of Sibiu in central Romania is going to be finished late 2015, Dan Sova, minister of large infrastructure projects, told the state television last night.
The highway, also known as Transylvania Highway, is part of a pan-European corridor connecting the Hungarian border to the Black Sea port of Constanta. If finished, the Romanian authorities still have to build a sector in southern Romania, in the historical province of Wallachia, linking Sibiu to Pitesti, to complete the thoroughfare. From Nadlac to Constanta, the highway will be 920 km long, but only half of it has been built do far. The government has promised though the whole east-to-west highway will be functional in 2018.
“The good news for Dacia (the Romanian car maker) is we will have a complete highway between Sibiu and Nadlac by the end of 2015. We will only have to finish Pitesti-Sibiu, namely 120 kilometers” Dan Sova said.
Dacia, bought by French car maker Renault, has been pressing the Romanian Government to finish the Pitesti-Sibiu highway, arguing the lack of modern infrastructure hinders exports and at the same time raises the price of cars due to expensive transportation. Last month, President Traian Basescu warned Renault may pull its production in Romania and transfer it to Tanger, in Morocco. Renault dismissed this possibility, but pointed out again the need for rapid infrastructure. The dispute anyway turned the government’s attention to the Pitesti-Sibiu highway after the central authorities seemed to be favoring another sector, namely Sibiu-Brasov.
Sova said the construction works at the Pitesti-Sibiu highway will start late 2015, with the costs assessed at about 3.2 billion Euros. The minister also revealed the government is working on the Craiova-Pitesti highway project, expecting to announce the bid winner this year. The US car maker Ford, which has production facilities in Craiova, is also putting pressure on the Romanian authorities to expand the highway infrastructure.
Romania inaugurated about 115 kilometers of highway last year, with an overall functional sector reaching a little beyond 600 kilometers. Another 60 kilometers are expected to be opened this year.
But the banking sector expects Romania to attract the most EU funds this year since the country joined the EU, with an important part of the money going into the infrastructure projects. Thus, the government is set to access 6 billion Euros in 2014, raising the absorption rate to 60 per cent by the end of the year and, probably, to 80 per cent by the end of 2015.