Next year should see the completion of the Sibiu-Nadlac highway and the start of works on the Pitesti-Sibiu route, both part of the A1 corridor. But judging by the authorities’ contradictory comments, there could be more delays along the road.
Sibiu’s strategic position and the access it provides to the European highway network are the main reasons big investors like automotive manufacturer Continental have chosen to invest there. The county is crossed by the A1 highway, part of the Pan-European transport corridor IV, which when completed will connect Bucharest to Nadlac on Romania’s border with Hungary, and the future A3 highway which will connect Bucharest with the north-west of the country. Sibiu is also connected to Europe via an international airport which last year was used by a total of 222, 827 passengers.
Sibiu’s County Council plans to spend one third of its 2014 total budget of about EUR 72 million on development works. “These funds, to which will be added EU money for various projects, will go mainly towards the development of the road infrastructure, the A1 and A3 highways and several county and local roads which we want to complete by 2016,” Ioan Cindrea, president of Sibiu County Council, told BR. The development of Sibiu International Airport, both in terms of passenger traffic and the construction of a cargo terminal, is another target on the local authorities’ agenda.
When the A1 is fully completed, Romania’s location will become even more of an asset, but judging by the progress made by the central authorities and politicians’ recent contradictory statements on the matter, the actual completion is still a long way off.
Sibiu-Nadlac highway crawls towards destination
The first, second, and fourth segments of the Orastie-Sibiu highway (82 km), part of the A1, were finished in December 2013. The opening of the third segment was delayed after the National Road Company and the contractor, Italian firm Impregilo, failed to reach a technical and financial agreement following mudslides in the area. The minister of transport, Dan Sova, announced in March that the contract would be terminated and the 22km completed in 2015. Just a month later he then said that the contract would not be terminated and the segment would be open to traffic this November at no additional cost. In April Sova told BR that the entire Sibiu-Nadlac segment of the A1 highway (350km) would be finished in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Pitesti-Sibiu highway awaits green light
As for the start of works on the Pitesti-Sibiu segment, the only part of the A1 where there has been no progress in recent years, the authorities have been batting the matter back and forth for several months, with claim followed by counterclaim.
Last December the highway was taken off the list of priority infrastructure projects Romania plans to build by 2018 due to high construction costs and an out-of-date feasibility study dating back to 2008. However, in March, the Ministry of EU Funds cited the project as a priority in terms of infrastructure projects for which Romania wants to attract EU funds during the 2014-2020 framework. Sova said it would take two years until a new feasibility study is done and works could start no earlier than 2017. He was then contradicted by PM Victor Ponta who said, following a visit to the Dacia factory in Mioveni, that works would start in 2015 and be completed by 2020 or even earlier.
Whether works will actually start and finish on time or the project will disappear amid more political infighting remains to be seen. But all stakeholders agree that the completion of the A1 will benefit not only Sibiu, but the entire local economy.