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Adapting International Best Practice for Efficient Maintenance and Preservation of Roads in Bulgaria

February 11, 2010

Sofia, February 11, 2010 – The cost to maintain and preserve road infrastructure could be reduced by 15 to 40 percent, shows the latest international experience which was presented at a two-day experts workshop closed today and organized by the National Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) with support from the World Bank. This reduction could be achieved if the road agency had technical systems in place to monitor the condition and the level of usage of road infrastructure, and if new methods of contracting for road maintenance were to be introduced. The event is part of RIA’s activities supported by the World Bank under the Road Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project, which together with providing financing for rehabilitation of roads in Bulgaria, supports Bulgaria in developing a Road Management System and in preparing performance-based road maintenance contracts.

During the workshop, representatives of RIA presented the new Road Management System (RMS) developed under the Project.

“The completion of this system, including all sub-systems like data bases, economic models and development scenarios, reconstruction technologies, types of materials, etc., is extremely important for the road infrastructure management in Bulgaria, as this approach is applied in all EU member states”, said at the opening Dimitar Sabev, member of the RIA Management Board . He emphasized furtheron that the new road management system is crucial from the view point of taking substantiated and motivated decisions as regards the reconstruction and national roads network maintenance. “It will be a major instrument for elaboration of well-grounded financial analyses thus supporting RIA in the process of applying for funding under various financial programs and institutions. In this context, the completion and implementation of the system is of key importance for the country”, Mr. Sabev added.

“As a committed partner, the World Bank brings up the best of international and European knowledge to support the country in its path becoming a strong EU member state”, Florian Fichtl, the World Bank Representative in Bulgaria said. He added: “The Government faces a unique opportunity to better structure the expenditure and improve accountability for results of all public offices. We were honored to support the National Road Infrastructure Agency in its efforts to strengthen road management in Bulgaria. The activities supported by the World Bank and presented in this workshop should enable RIA to preserve the ongoing road investments regardless of their financing sources and make the best use of the funding available for roads in Bulgaria”

The main applications of the system were demonstrated at the workshop.
The experience from some Western European and in North America shows that multi-year performance-based maintenance of roads, which are different from the input-based maintenance contracts currently used in Bulgaria, can reduce the unit costs of road maintenance, keep road condition at a reasonable level, and increase road users’ satisfaction. Under the Project, RIA developed the methodology and the bidding documents to pilot-test performance-based maintenance contracts in three areas in Bulgaria. Should the necessary financing be available, these three pilot contracts could be started in 2011.