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Hemus Highway tender postponed to 2011

Date: 24.02.2009

A new tender for the construction of Hemus Highway, linking Bulgarian capital Sofia to Varna on the Black Sea coast, was likely to be called no sooner than 2011, website mediapool.bg quoted the head of the supervisory board of National Road Infrastructure Agency (NRIA), Ivan Atanassov, as saying.

Bulgarian authorities were yet to decide on the specific conditions and requirements to prospective investors, which would take at least two years, Atanassov said. It was not even clear whether Bulgaria was willing to settle for a straightforward concession deal, or would insist on a public-private partnership, he said.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development suggested this week that Bulgaria chooses the first option, allowing investors to collect tolls in exchange for building the remaining 314km of the 443km highway.

Before the tender is called, Bulgaria will a consultant that would have to draft all the necessary paperwork.

Still, there is no guarantee that matters will proceed according to plan. Environmental impact assessments for the planned route of the highway have been ready for years and Regional Development Minister Assen Gagaouzov adamant that a tender would be called shortly as far back as early 2007.

But since then there has been no progress made, as the Cabinet instead focused on completing Trakiya Highway between Sofia and Bourgas, also on the Black Sea, with limited success.

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