Ivaylo Moskovski, Bulgarian Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, in an interview for Focus News Agency.
Focus: Mr Moskovski, which of the existing parking lots for heavy vehicles will be expanded and modernised? How many and where will the new parking lots be constructed?
Ivaylo Moskovski: I cannot say which of the existing parking lots will be expanded and modernised, because there are a lot of places, which look like parking lots, but are by no means such. We have an analysis, prepared by the Transport Policy Directorate with the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, which shows 23 key places on the territory of Bulgarian road network. If such buffer parking lots are constructed at these 23 places, the problems with the so-called “stoppers”, traffic problems of heavy vehicles, will be resolved. It is logical to use the conclusions of this analysis. These parking lots will cover several border areas, close to border checkpoints, where heavy vehicles are more prone to piling up, and along the major road arteries of the country. Together with the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, we gave a gratis period of between one and one and a half years, in which the Road Infrastructure Agency would have the time to prepare properties, which would be given to investors, who have shown interest in constructing such parking lots. We must have parking lots, which correspond to all European standards, with normal conditions of life, where drivers can take a shower, eat, sleep, and have normal lighting and security. While this gratis period is running, we have made a commitment to not introduce any new restrictive measures for the traffic of heavy vehicles during weekends and holidays. At the moment, there are traffic restrictions for heavy vehicles for only certain hours during weekends in the summer and national holidays. We will start thinking about additional restrictions only when modern parking lots are constructed. Otherwise it would not be correct to introduce new restrictions, while the drivers have no places to park their vehicles.
Focus: Do you have any information, which of the currently constructed parking lots fulfil the criteria of the IRU - International Road Transport Union, and are the European criteria being applied?
Ivaylo Moskovski: I do not have such information. However, I think that if there are any such parking lots – they are very few.
Focus: Will the new parking lots be constructed only by the state, or is it possible to have public-private partnerships constructing them, as well?
Ivaylo Moskovski: The mechanism, which we selected was public-private partnerships to construct such parking lots. The parking lot in Ruse, for example, which will host up to 500 heavy vehicles, will be constructed by a public-private partnership. The regional governance of Ruse has already made a commitment for such a partnership; we are waiting the Public-Private Partnership Act to be adopted on second reading, which will give a much bigger flexibility to the selection of investors. Currently only tenant agreements can be signed, other types of contracts, which are similar to tenant agreements. Anyway, the state does not have the ability to construct such parking lots, so they will be constructed through public-private partnerships.
Focus: Will this happen in one and a half years, in order to fit within the gratis period, you mentioned earlier?
Ivaylo Moskovski: I hope so. It would be good if the process has started and the parking lots at the most important locations have been constructed by then.
Focus: Have you specified the locations for construction of new parking lots along the new lots of the motordays?
Ivaylo Moskovski: Such parking lots have been stipulated for the lots that are currently being constructed, with financial resources from OP Transport. The ones that will be constructed will also have such parking lots. Currently we are constructing three lots of Trakiya, two of Maritsa, and three of Struma motorways, and the budget from OP transport for this programme period is depleting.
Focus: Do you discuss these questions with the representatives of the transport branch?
Ivaylo Moskovski: Yes, we have a constant communication with the transport branch for all types of questions and issues. The representatives of the branch even were looking for options, which would allow them to ask for European financing for such investments, as associations and branch organisations. The case is currently being checked, and if they are allowed to receive such financing, we will help them in any way we can.
Focus: Does the construction of these parking lots require any legislative amendments?
Ivaylo Moskovski: No. There is no necessity for that. The legislation that will give big flexibility to the selection of investors for such project will be the Public-Private Partnership Act. We are just waiting for it to be adopted on second reading, and it will resolve many issues.
Focus: Is it possible when you have restrictions for heavy trucks throughout the summer and winter, the news to be spread through the mass media two hours in advance? Thus the trucks will have time to leave the roads in question, and this will be made on the basis of a weather forecast. This is what the branch proposed.
Ivaylo Moskovski: I believe that we will be able to do this. I think that now the weather forecasts are much more accurate. This is a very good idea and we will apply it.