The application form for Lots 3.1 and 3.3 of Struma Motorway to be ready by end-March

After approval by the Managing Authority of OPTTI it will be sent to the European Commission, said Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Hristo Alexiev

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Struma Motorway is the main project in the road sector, which should be completed in this programming period. Colleagues from the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) are currently finalizing the application form for Lots 3.1 and 3.3 and Zheleznitsa tunnel. I expect by the end of March that it will be submitted for approval by the Managing Authority of the Operational Program Transport and Transport Infrastructure (ОPTTI) and then it will be sent to the European Commission,” said in an interview for Stroitel Newspaper Caretaker Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Hristo Alexiev.

According to him, the preparation for Lot 3.2 of Struma Motorway is another important issue he and his team are observing daily. “The key element here is completion of the environmental assessment, which should present the environmental impact of the different routes, including the so-called Eastern variant, in which there is separation of the two traffic directions. It is also important at national level to be ensured the construction of the motorway, including providing additional financing, if necessary, as well as structuring an expert and good management team to implement the project,” said Alexiev.

The transport minister also said that so far were negotiated nearly 43% of the total resources of OPTTI, which amount to over BGN 1.6 billion. The projects for which have been signed contracts for grants and agreements with contractors are worth BGN 1.3 billion, or 36% of the total resources of the program.

Minister Alexiev, what will be your priorities within the term of the caretaker government?

As part of the caretaker cabinet we have clearly defined priorities. The main and most important task before us is to organize and hold fair and transparent elections. I have regular meetings with representatives of “Information Services” AD. The company is in the system of the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications (MTITC) and is committed to the election process.
Parallel with this, we are working on preparations for the upcoming first Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The holding of events during the Presidency of the EU Council on transport and telecommunications in the period January – June 2018 is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges in terms of ensuring coordination and appropriate organization. Forthcoming are talks with NGOs and businesses, since the hosting of such events is an opportunity to demonstrate the achievements of native industry.

That is exactly my next question – will Lot 3 of Struma Motorway be in the focus of your attention?

Undoubtedly, yes. And this is quite natural because Struma Motorway is the main project in the road sector, which should be completed in this programming period. Colleagues from the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) are currently finalizing the application form for Lots 3.1 and 3.3 and Zheleznitsa tunnel. I expect by the end of March that it will be submitted for approval by the Managing Authority of the Operational Program Transport and Transport Infrastructure (ОPTTI) and then it will be sent to the European Commission (EC). In early February there was a meeting in Brussels with representatives of MTITC, RIA and EC on which they raised the issue of speeding up this process.

The preparation of Lot 3.2 is another important issue my team and I are observing daily. The key element here is completion of the environmental assessment, which should present the environmental impact of the different routes, including the so-called Eastern variant, in which there is separation of the two traffic directions. It is also important at national level to be ensured the construction of the motorway, including providing additional financing, if necessary, as well as structuring an expert and good management team to implement the project.

What are your ambitions in terms of the Connecting Europe Facility?

The negotiation of projects on the Bulgarian part on this financial facility goes at a very good pace. As is known, the application under CEF is done on a competitive basis and projects from all countries compete against each other. The evaluation criteria are relevance to the EU objectives, maturity, impact on transport connectivity with other countries of the community and quality of the proposal. In this sense, I am very pleased that on the first two calls for proposals our country has seven transport projects approved totaling EUR 294 million, of which approximately EUR 285 million are for railway projects.
On 7 February expired the term for submitting projects under the third call. Bulgaria submitted a total of four transport projects and is expected in the middle of this year to become clear which ones are approved. We applied for the following projects – construction of railway junction Plovdiv, construction of a section from Kalotina – Sofia ring road Motorway and two proposals related to optimization of services for air traffic control.

These investments are extremely important because they supplement the funds allocated for Bulgaria under OPTTI 2014 – 2020, and with this additional funding we can build on the priorities set out in the transport sector.

In late March we will organize jointly with the European Commission a regional conference to promote investment in the transport sector. The event will be attended by representatives of the European Commission, including the European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc, Vice President of the European Investment Bank responsible for Transport Pim Van Ballekom, European coordinators Carla Pace and Kathrin Trautmann. So far attendance confirmed six European ministers of transport and we expect others also to attend.

During the forum will be presented the call for proposals published by the EC on 8 February 2017 by which are provided EUR 1 billion, in addition to private initiatives aimed at key transport projects. The objective is EUR 1 billion from the European funds to be combined with other alternative sources of funding to stimulate private investment in projects of public interest.

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