Romania’s Incredible €8.5bn Thirty Mile Motorway – First A-Rated Winter Tyre

Shock and incredulity in Romania after the staggering costs of the Transylvania Highway are revealed. It will be Europe’s – and possibly the World’s – most expensive motorway project, ever.

Plus, toll fines issued to vehicle owners rather than drivers are illegal says a court in Portugal. The death toll in the Greece ferry fire may rise significantly. Campaigners against the plan to sell Croatia’s motorways suffer a setback.

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ROMANIA’S INCREDIBLE €8.5BN THIRTY MILE MOTORWAY

Eyewatering ‘Transylvania Highway’ bill boosted by finance costs.

A3 Transylvania Highway. Picture via Wikipedia.

A3 Transylvania Highway. Picture via Wikipedia.

Finance costs for the upcoming A3 Comarnic-Brasov ‘Transylvania Highway’ see the bill rise from €2.7bn to €8.45bn over the next thirty years.

The road will stretch just 33 miles (53km) between Comarnic and Brasov in central Romania albeit across the Carpathian Mountains.

The costs, made public for the first time this week, have provoked incredulity among locals.

Bucharest Life editor Craig Turp (@BucharestLife) said, ‘Romania loves a world record, and it’s about to get another: the world’s most expensive motorway. Another triumph for [prime minister] Victor Ponta.

‘How expensive? €8.5 billion for 53 km of motorway. It takes a kind of genius to do a deal like that.’

Design, engineering and construction costs alone work out at more than €34m per km, dwarfing the €20m+ per km of the similarly mountainous Bar-Boljare motorway in Montenegro, previously Europe’s most expensive road project.

The final bill includes operation and maintenance for the thirty year life of the concession. The government contribution totals €325.2m each year less its (small) share of revenue from roadside advertising and rent from filling stations, etc. The road will be tolled at €1.50 each way.

An initial contract was signed with France-Greece-Austria consortium Vinci-Aktor-Strabag last year. According to our understanding it will be finalised next month. Construction is expected to take four years.

Despite Renault – owner of car maker Dacia, headquartered south of the Carpathians – lobbying hard for the A1 motorway, to link the factory (and Bucharest) with the west European road network, the government has continued to see A3 as its top priority.

A3 traces a similar route to A1, between central and west Romania, meeting the (yet to be built) M4 motorway at the Hungarian border by Oradea, but is much less direct.

However, in the meantime, apart from linking major cities Ploiesti, Brasov and Cluj-Napoca, A3 will run along the Prahova Valley, one of Romania’s foremost tourist destinations.

Interestingly, A3 Comarnic-Brasov is listed among the European Commission’s nine priority corridors on the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) published this week.

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Finnish manufacturer Nokian has launched what it claims to be the first A rated winter tyre. More later.

Aside from the initial investment in buying an extra set, one of the disadvantages of buying winter tyres is the effect on fuel economy (our all-weather tyres have seen a consistent dip of 1.3mpg over our previous summer tyres). Finnish manufacturer Nokian says it has now squared the circle with the Hakkapeliitta R2 which, the company claims, is the world’s first winter tyre to achieve an EU label Class-A energy rating, i.e. better that many summer tyres. The downside for most drivers is that R2 has been specially designed for the BMW i3 (and other electric vehicles). It’s not clear if and when the R2 will be available for conventional cars, or if the low rolling resistance was achieved partly as a result of the narrow boots used on the i3. Will update.

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roundup: PORTUGAL. Toll fines levied against the vehicle owner rather than the driver are illegal ruled a regional court this week says The Portugal News. It is interesting since, as we understand it, the new EU cross-border fines rules mean owners rather than drivers are liable for penalties (though toll fines are not included). GREECE. Twenty seven people may have died in the Norman Atlantic ferry fire over New Year says thelocal.it, considerably up from the eleven bodies so far recovered. A new ‘definitive’ list from the Greek authorities says a further sixteen paying passengers are still unaccounted for. CROATIA. Campaigners’ request to halt the motorway concession plan has been rejected by the Constitutional Court reports the Independent Balkan News Agency. They had hoped to prevent further moves until the outcome of a referendum was known. A 530,000 signature petition ‘We will not give up our motorways’ has been collected. Recently ousted President Josipovic supported the campaign as has another leading politician, Tomislav Karamarko (a possible next prime minister). The current government wants to sell the national road operator to pay back debts and free funds for further investment, notably the Adriatic-Ionian motorway.

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