Exciting new roads in Bulgaria and Serbia will provide a modern motorway link between western Europe and the Black Sea for the first time.
The constructors are racing to finish the Trakia Highway linking Sofia and the Black Sea coast before the summer holiday season.
Just 30 miles is left to build, Lot 4 from Yambol to Karnobat, about 30 miles from the sea. The rest of the 250 mile route is open and operating.
Trakia derives from the Thracians, the ancient Indo-European tribe who lived in the region.
The road is twelve months behind its original schedule. The latest hold up is down to a problem with the supply of aggregates. The building consortium now hopes to have it ready by the end of June at the latest, though that depends on the weather.
Construction has continued despite the recent political crisis. A fresh start general election on May 12 and a clear run to the seaside would be a welcome fillip in what has so far been a traumatic year for Bulgaria. Twelve people have so far set themselves on fire as part of the protests.
Incidentally, Meglena Kuneva, the former European Commissioner for Consumer Protection – responsible for the current regime of EU Passenger Rights – is a player in the forthcoming elections.
Trakia is not tolled though all motorised road users must by a vignette sticker (cars: €5/week, €13/month or €34/year).
Meanwhile, the Bulgarian govt has received tenders to build a short expressway northwest from Sofia to the Serbian border at Kalotina, a four-laned continuation of the existing ‘Boulevard Bulgaria’.
The 21 miles left to upgrade has a projected build time of two years. Ten companies have submitted bids. Funding however is not yet in place.
At the same time, Serbia is at an advanced stage of completing the motorway from southern city Nis to Kalotina’s corresponding border crossing at Dimitrovgrad. The target finish date is mid-2015.
Upon completion, all three roads will combine in the first modern motorway link from western Europe to the Black Sea.
From London that‘s a distance of nearly 1,800 miles, or thirty hours driving time.
Read UK Ambassador Jonathan Allen’s positive summation of the situation in Bulgaria – a medium sized country with no debt or deficit, home to 15,000 UK citizens.