MEMORANDUM for the introduction of the A8 trans-mountain section (Târgu Mureş – Ditrău – Poiana Largului – Târgu Neamţ – Motorway junction with A7) in PNRR and the inclusion of the entire A8 Motorway in POT 2021-2027

December 28, 2020

Letter to the European Commission for the support of Romanian A8 motorway and inclusion in the Recovery and Resilience Plan

For the attention of:

Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms

Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Mobility and Transport

Karima Delli, Chair of the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament

Considering the fact that A8 Motorway is missing from the list of major investments included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), designed by the Romanian Ministry of European Funds, the Association Miscarea pentru Dezvoltarea Romaniei (Movement for the Development of Moldova – MDM) considers it is necessary to obtain full funding – through PNRR and POT – of this vital infrastructure objective for the region of Moldova, the eastern part of Romania.

A8 Motorway, which would cross Moldova from East to West, is the only solution for stopping the economic isolation and accelerating the development of the most disadvantaged region of the European Union. Here are some of the arguments in brief:

– A8 is the shortest access road from Eastern Romania to the West of the country, and from there to Central and Western Europe, in terms of freight transport;

– The entire region of Moldova can benefit from it – which has 4 million inhabitants  – equally both Southern and Northern counties;

– It would also connect the Republic of Moldova and south western Ukraine with Europe, strengthening the independence of their economies from Russia;

– A8 has been on a main European corridor (TEN-T core) since 2012 and is thus included in the General Transport Master Plan of Romania since 2015, to be completed by 2030 at the latest;

– It would support the decentralization of Romania, an ultra-centralized state, which operates according to an administrative law from 1968.

Although a law has been voted and is theoretically among the priorities of the Romanian state, A8 Motorway is currently facing many underfunding problems and we have many reasons to believe that it will be abandoned in favour of A13 Motorway (Bacau-Brasov), which is necessary but as a secondary corridor, because it fails to impose itself as a solution for the entire region.

Our association aims to promote the general interests of the region and supports the construction of all three motorways announced for Moldova – A7 (Ploiești-Siret), A8 (Ungheni-Iași-Târgu Mureș), A13 (Bacău-Brașov), but respecting the priorities of the National General Transport Plan, which places on the main corridor A8 Motorway and on the secondary corridor A13 Motorway.

MDM notes that, currently, a reset of the priorities is taking place in a totally non-transparent way and demands the highlighting the projects that serve the largest number of people, large areas, major centres.

In support of our approach, we attach the Memorandum below, which argues the need for A8 Motorway to be a priority in all development strategies carried out with European funding by the Romanian government.

Miscarea pentru Dezvoltarea Moldovei/ Movement for

the Development of Moldova

 

MEMORANDUM for the introduction of the A8 trans-mountain section (Târgu Mureş – Ditrău – Poiana Largului – Târgu Neamţ – Motorway junction with A7) in PNRR and the inclusion of the entire A8 Motorway in POT 2021-2027

  1. About PNRR Proposal for a Regulation

PNRR argues that the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism will provide financial support for public investment and reforms capable of boosting the resilience capacity of the EU’s national and regional economies.

Also, in the chapter Presentation of the financed areas, the subchapter Sustainable transport states that “Access to the Western European corridors, as well as to the Eastern and Southern European ones, is difficult and limited by the traffic capacity and the low quality of the transport infrastructure in Romania., thus limiting the free movement of goods and persons and diminishing the possibilities of increasing the international traffic of goods or passengers transiting Romania”(p. 30). The fact that none of the proposed road projects for Moldova is part of the West-East vector (the main mobility vector in our European region), the only one that can get us out of isolation at the regional cross-border level, represents a major shortcoming of PNRR.

The general objectives, namely „implementation of the trans-European TEN-T transport networks, improving connections/connectivity to them, increasing mobility at national, regional, urban and cross-border level, optimizing traffic, passenger safety, freight and overall quality of services” (p. 30), are only partially included.

PNRR fails to include extremely important segments from the perspective of mobility at local, regional and cross-border analysis scales (A8 as a whole, for example), but also problematic segments from the perspective of congested traffic and road accidents – E58/E583 on the vector on which the A8 Motorway will also be,  between Iaşi and Târgu Frumos, currently the busiest road in Moldova, but also the most dangerous – from the perspective of road accidents, being in a national Top 3, according to the PNRR report (see fig. 1. – Annex 1, in PNRR fig. 2, p. 31). 

  1. Spatial deficiencies of the road configurations proposed in the PNRR

From the MDM perspective, the road configurations proposed in PNRR are deficient at several scalar levels: local, regional, national and transnational/continental.

2.1. Local territorial level

The most logical thing would be to look for the important projects for this scalar level in the area of ​​the second financing category – 2. Road: Detours and municipal connections to the TEN-T network. But this category does not introduce in the local traffic systems a detour, but only two connections (Botoşani – Suceava and Vaslui – Bacău) more important for the road relations of these residences with Bucharest or at subregional level.

The only detours proposed are those along the A7 Motorway, in financing category 1. Road: Motorways and express roads (TEN-T). Two intermediate county residences (Focşani and Suceava) and a medium-sized city (Roman) will benefit from this type of facility. Bacău has secured financing for the motorway  beltway, which is now in an advanced stage of construction, from other sources.

The other county residences (Iaşi, Galaţi, Botoşani, Vaslui or Piatra Neamţ) were not taken into account. It is worth noting the presence in this enumeration of the two largest cities of Moldova – Iasi (the old capital and the most important regional centre) and Galati.

The project present in Iaşi (A8 – Leţcani – Dacia from the financing category 2. Road: Detours and municipal connections to the TEN-T network) as a detour, is far from being able to fulfil this purpose.

The Northern segment of this project present in PNRR, which has its origin in the intersection near Leţcani on E58/E583, is meant to connect the municipality of Iaşi with the Leţcani node of the A8 Motorway (Iaşi – Târgu Mureş), which represents on the Eastern vector the detour of Iaşi, the so-called Iași Northern Beltway.

The Southern segment, the one at the intersection with E58/E583 near Leţcani towards Dacia neighbourhood, is not part of a local bypass road system, but only an alternative for a more direct access to Dacia neighbourhood and other neighbourhoods of Iasi located South of the railway axis. An axis that divides the city into two parts approximately equal in terms of the demographic dimension, but unequal from a functional perspective – the Northern part of the railway axis (where the city centre is located) accumulating most urban functions and services (all universities, most important and most numerous pre-university education units, most numerous and most important hospitals, almost all administrative, financial, retail services, most of the office stock, etc.).

This situation creates major dysfunctions in the urban mobility (road congestion, numerous traffic jams, pollution) in the Iasi conurbation, dysfunctions that could have been eliminated (or at least mitigated!) by several projects funded through PNRR in the field of Sustainable Transport (Northern detour in motorway and suburban train mode).

The urban beltway in motorway configuration, part of the A8 route, also represents the only viable alternative to bypass Iaşi. Despite the fact that the local authorities are struggling in search of a Southern detour to the city, no road configuration through the highest relief of the area – which also has the highest relief energy- can take over the transit traffic from the Republic Moldova or the North Pontic area (Southern Ukraine or Southern European Russia) towards the rest of the cities of Romania or Central, Western and Southern Europe. Moreover, this Northern beltway is very necessary in order to access the airport or the future objectives of Iaşi still in Project Design phase (Regional Emergency Hospital – very important also in regional terms, the new Polyvalent Sports Hall or the new stadium). The mentioned investments will create additional pressure on the urban mobility, considering that from the central area of the city the distance to these objectives can be covered only through a network of narrow rural-like streets.

The absence of A8 Motorway(and even of the urban train!) from the list of PNRR projects does not give any chance to refresh the urban mobility in the coming years, either in the functional urban area (one of the largest in Romania), or in the morphological urban area (Iaşi and 7 local LAUs from the continuously built space: Tomeşti, Holboca, Rediu, Valea Lupului, Miroslava, Ciurea and Bârnova), or in the urban agglomeration (which sums up the communes of Leţcani and Aroneanu at the eight mentioned LAUs).

Regarding the last two urban spatial categories, Iaşi is third in the country from the demographic point of view, after Bucharest and Cluj.

The lack of financing perspectives in the PNRR of these objectives creates pressure on the funds of Transport Operational Programme POT 2021-2027, as there is even the risk of not being financed.

2.2. Regional territorial level

From the perspective of morphology, the important sections for Moldova proposed to be financed from PNRR cause major deficiencies at the level of intra-regional relations.

The absence of a project on the Târgu Neamţ – Paşcani – Târgu Frumos – Iaşi vector, which represents the busiest road route in Moldova, at least on some of its sections (over 17 thousand vehicles/day on the Târgu Frumos-Podu Iloaiei section and over 20 thousand on the Podu Iloaiei – Western entrance to Iaşi section, data valid in 2015), which has long required the construction of a motorway, from the PNRR list is more than obvious. Moreover, these road sections generate the most accidents in the region (see fig. 1. – Annex 1, in PNRR fig. 2, p. 31).

Relations with Iasi and Galati, the first two regional centres of Moldova, are missing. Thus, 49% of the population of urban agglomerations of the county residences of Moldova remains disconnected from the system of fast road relations, which represents the population of local urban structures of the two cities (see Fig. 2 – Annex 1). From the perspective of some territorial services, things are even worse. The two cities account for over 84% of Moldova’s students, over 68% of doctors in regional and county hospitals and 55% of beds in regional and county hospitals.

Not only are all of these services disconnected from most of the region served, but they are well beyond the one-hour isochronous from a motorway junction.

The absence from the list of the A8 segment between Iaşi and Paşcani, including the junction designed to access A7 from Paşcani, creates an additional impossibility of accessibility to the most important regional centrality for the North-East region, the main hinterland of the territorial functions of Iaşi.

What do the road relations of PNRR list ignore? Over 80% of the region’s students, over 58% of regional airport passengers, over 2/3 of the doctors in the regional and county hospitals and 1/2 of the beds in the regional and county hospitals do not have access to fast road connections. We also mention the fact that from the perspective of medical emergencies, Iaşi ensures almost all of them at regional level.

In the absence of a fast relationship on a Western vector from the perspective of Iasi, but also of a Northern beltway of Iasi, it will be impossible to achieve access in good conditions to another major project located in Iasi, (but more important for the region than for the city) – The Regional Emergency Hospital. And the travel time in the emergency medical system matters. How many emergencies in the West of Iaşi County, in Suceava, Neamţ, Bacău or Botoşani can be solved, if ambulances risk remaining in the already legendary traffic jams on the busiest road in Moldova: from Podu Iloaiei, from Rond Era or from Iaşi, a city that they will have to cross from one end to the other in order to reach the Regional Emergency Hospital?

Regarding the other big city of Moldova, Galaţi, as the only port of Moldova, although it is located next to the largest natural intersection in Romania – at the confluence of Siret and Prut with the Danube – it remains disconnected not only from the big international flows, but also from the regional ones.

The spatial configuration of the road projects financed through PNRR creates the impression that the aim is to build some escape channels for the cities of secondary and tertiary importance in the structural and territorial economy of Moldova towards the Capital. In the absence from these relations of Iaşi and Galaţi, Bucharest becomes the only superior city from a functional perspective with which this urban level of Moldova will maintain fast connections. If Bucharest is eliminating the regional competitors, the only centralities capable of supporting regional structures of regional size, the notion of increasing territorial cohesion is emptied of content at this scale.

2.3. National territorial level

The exclusive privileging of a centre which is too strong from the perspective of internal and regional relations and ignoring connections between Moldova and other regions of the country, is not an action that supports the paradigm of a polycentric Romania. On the contrary, the choice of road projects and the configuration of the network at regional level in PNRR leaves the impression of deliberate actions aimed to strengthen the relations between the national centrality and the intermediate centralities of the regional urban system. The most evaluated of the Moldovan urban centres that are on the road configuration proposed in PNRR, Suceava and Bacău, have relatively modest dimensions and insufficient services (higher education, health, cultural, etc.) to support a regional territorial structure. This functional intermediation creates for the two cities only the role of relay at subregional level, a secondary role, at best, in the architecture of any territorial structure of regional size.

From a theoretical perspective, in order to have a sustainable regional structure, the county residences in the central and Northern part of Moldova (Bacău, Botoşani, Piatra Neamţ, Suceava and Vaslui) should be registered in the orbit of the regional polarization of Iaşi, and Focşani on that of Galaţi.

Not only that the road network proposed to be financed through PNNR fails to respect the lines of force at regional level, but it betrays the efforts of the central authorities to register the secondary cities of the Moldovan urban system directly on the orbit of polarization the Capital.

By the absence of the projects of the fast relations between Iaşi and Galaţi, on the one hand, and the secondary and tertiary cities at regional level, on the other hand, it seems that a de-structuring of the territorial relations that have become traditional is desired. The proposed projects become likely to create an unsustainable space, involving not only additional energy consumption for accessing common services for the regional level (higher education, health, airport connections etc.), but also supporting the migration of elites towards the Capital.

We propose an analogy that refers to thermodynamics. By weakening the relations between the centralities of Moldova and in the conditions of consolidating the relations with the capital of Romania, an increase of the entropy at the level of the regional system and a decrease of the one at the national level takes place. Under the conditions created by the implementation of these projects, there is a risk that the internal, regional entropy will become higher than the entropy of the national exterior, which would mean that the Moldovan regional territorial system no longer works.

2.4. Transnational/continental territorial level

We consider that ensuring an increased accessibility of larger or smaller localities in Moldova at this scalar level is the most important part in the economy of road relations. According to current geopolitical configurations, a Transcarpathian motorway is the only viable option for unlocking – at EU level – the most isolated region in relation to the hard economic core, where the big investments come from. This was also the motive behind our proposal – Introduction of the A8 mountain section (Târgu Mureş – Ditrău – Poiana Largului – Târgu Neamţ – A7 Motorway junction) in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the inclusion of the entire A8 Motorway in the financing of the Operational Programme Transport 2021-2027.

From this scalar perspective, the configuration created by the projects proposed for funding from PNRR does not respect at all the lines of force at continental level, which rather require relations on the East-West Transcarpathian vector.

A7, the only coherent project that somehow meets the conditions of maturity (at least in the sections from Ploieşti to Paşcani, maybe Suceava) does not take out of isolation the most isolated region of Romania and of the EU. This project preserves the character of the cul de sac/dead end of Moldova.

The North-South vector cannot be capitalized at a transnational level in the absence of projects from neighbouring countries: Ukraine (non-EU country) and Bulgaria. Both the Siret – Chernivtsi – Lvov axis and the one from Ruse to the southern Balkans are far from the relationship priorities of the neighbouring states, having themselves major problems of internal and external connectivity to the European rapid transport system. Moreover, the vector on which the A7 is inserted is a marginal one in the European territorial structure, overlapping with some peripheral European centralities.

However, from the perspective of mobility at the continental level, any Transcarpathian relationship would be indispensable for connecting Moldova to the European rapid traffic system, whether we are talking about the A8 or about the A13. But we care which of these highways will be built. Because the A8 is much more efficient, both in terms of reducing the distance-time between the cities of Moldova and Budapest, and in terms of its importance at the continental level – seen as the most efficient relationship between Southeast Europe (starting with southern European Russia, continuing with Southern Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova) and the rest of Europe.

Let’s find out first, why Budapest? Because, if we start from the idea of ​​the most efficient routes from a distance-time perspective to Europe (Central, Western, Southern, Northern), the capital of Hungary is a mandatory motorway junction. The morphology of the current motorway network in Central and South-Eastern Europe does not put into place a junction alternative to Budapest, and the motorway designed in southern Hungary on the Szeged – Pecs – Nagykanizsa route, which could facilitate access to the North-Western Balkan Peninsula and Mediterranean Europe is still far from a tangible reality.

To support the above statements, we propose you some data on increasing the accessibility of important places on the A8 route (motorway junctions), but also of the 8 county residences in Moldova, located or not on the A8 route (see Annex 2), but also cartographies and quantitative analyses published in the Report Moldova accesibilă. Analiza fluxurilor de persoane şi de trafic rutier din regiune/Accesible Moldova. Analysis of flows of people and road traffic in the region (George Ţurcanaşu et al., Iași, Altfel Publishing House, 2020 –https://adoptadrummoldova.ro/raport-prioritati-dezvoltare/ ), report included in the project Adoptă un drum în Moldova/Adopt a road in Moldova, developed by the Mişcarea pentru Dezvoltarea Moldovei/Movement for the Development of Moldova Association, with funding from the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, through the Fund for Civic Innovation.

In the two data sets selected at the level of Moldova, which show the decrease in absolute data (minutes) or percentage of the time distance to Budapest on vectors A8 and A13, a higher efficiency of A8 is observed. For six of the eight county residences of Moldova (Iasi, Vaslui, Piatra Neamt, Bacau, Suceava and Botosani), the A8 is the motorway that would reduce the distance to Budapest the most, with values ​​between 32.7%, in the case of Iaşi and 21.5% in the case of Botoşani – values ​​that appear in tables with Bold characters.

For county residences in southern Moldova (Focsani and Galati), which are further away from the motorway junctions on the A8, the A13 is slightly more efficient. For example, in the case of Galaţi on the shortest route to Budapest that uses the A8 route, the decrease in time distance is of 13.1%, and in the case of the shortest route to Budapest that uses the A13 route, the decrease of the time distance is of 14.4%. Similar values ​​of the decrease of the time distance are also record near Focsani (Via A8 – 13.4%; Via A13 – 17.0%) – see also figures 4 and 5 from Annex 1.

This higher efficiency of the A8 Motorway is due (first of all!) to the E-W vector, which it follows, but also to the relatively central position in Moldova. There are also areas indifferent to this project, where the decrease is below 10% – the area of ​​Dornelor and mountainous Vrancea.

In the case of A13, efficiency is much lower. In terms of relations with Budapest, large areas of the Nordic counties remain indifferent. The main cause is given by the fact that A13 is oriented towards SW, a vector that forces users to register on a large southern loop, to Timişoara, from where the vector becomes SE-NW.

At the territorial level, we focused on identifying the most efficient itineraries from Iaşi and Bacău to the local administrative units (communes, municipalities and cities) in Transylvania, in the West and in the South of the country – fig. 6 and 7 – Annex 1.

What does the map show us for Iasi? The overlapping routes on the A8 (Iaşi-Târgu Mureş) have some undeniable spatial advantages. First of all, we are talking about the general vector of this project that is part of the E-W direction, which creates maximum efficiency in the future European motorway system.

Secondly, the relations on the A8 are also advantaged by the spatial configuration of the designed motorways system in Transylvania, Banat and the Western facade of Romania. Among the motorways in the West of the country, the motorway-like relationship between the junction situated South of Turda (Moldoveneşti commune) and the one in Sebeş is remarkable, which also streamlines the relationship between Iaşi and Timişoara or Arad. Once these cities are present in the area better served by A8, it means that this relationship is becoming the most effective way towards all border points with Hungary and Serbia.

This confirms once again that the A8 geometry brings an important increase in accessibility for most part of Moldova, both in terms of its relationship with Central, Western or North-Western Europe, as well as for Southern Europe, including the countries of North-Western Balkan Peninsula.

Suceava, Botoşani, Piatra Neamţ, Roman, Vaslui and Huşi also have cartographic configurations similar to those of Iaşi.

Carrying out the same approach for Bacău, we notice relatively important mutations. A13 has a maximum efficiency for accessing the counties in Southern Transylvania (Covasna, Southeast of Harghita, Brasov, Sibiu, most of Alba and Hunedoara counties), those in the Southern part of the Western facade of Romania (Arad, Timiş and Caraş-Severin), but also for the counties in Northern Oltenia and Muntenia.

Although the A13 relationship is important at inter-regional and national territorial level, the context of the current and future motorway system in this part of the continent does not seem to be of benefit for it. The future configuration of the motorway networks in Southern Romania (especially the lack of a project between Brasov and Pitesti, which would give this motorway a decisive role on a diagonal axis to cross Romania from SW to NE), from Hungary, but also from those in the Balkan states „blocks” it only at this level. The international role of the relationship becomes in such a situation a minor one; it refers only to the effective access to Northern Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the North–Western part of Croatia (excluding Zagreb) and South-Eastern Hungary. 

  1. On the issue of project maturity

Regarding the “maturity” of this project, a feature invoked, but without being clearly defined in this document, we will cite some percentage values ​​that appear in various CNAIR (National Company of Roads Infrastructure Administration) documents and of some pro-highway and pro-development NGOs – Together for A8, Moldova Wants a Highway and ProInfrastructure.

For Târgu Mureș – Ditrău – Târgu Neamț section, the development of the Feasibility Study is over 57% implemented – according to the progress sheets, within CNAIR – and will be completed in July 2021. The topographic study has already been submitted to ANCPI for approval. Geotechnical studies are carried out in a percentage of 55%, and the resulting geo-investigation topics were approved by CNAIR. The procedure for obtaining the Environmental Agreement was initiated in June 2020. The ANPM decision of initial assessment was issued on 18.09.2020. Archaeological studies are carried out in a percentage of over 65%. The traffic study is performed in a percentage of 80%. Drafting of general master plan, site plan, standard transversal profiles, analysis of constraints, corrections and adaptations of technical solutions, road works, works of art – bridges, passages, viaducts and tunnels are implemented up to 40%.

The motorway project, respectively the sub-stage of road works design is completed for the Târgu Mureș – Ditrău section. The route of 211 km from the Târgu Mureș – Ditrău – Târgu Neamț section, part of the A8, was approved within the Technical-Economic Commission of CNAIR, on November 6th, 2020. The Town Planning Certificates were issued by the county councils of Mureș, Harghita, Neamț and Iași.

At the moment, there are three financing applications submitted and two financing contracts concluded – SMIS code 122606, 127920 and 140334 for financing the feasibility studies and technical projects of the A8 Highway from POIM 2014-2020 (Large Infrastructure Operational Programme) 

  1. Country specific recommendations

The document presents the realities that substantiate the recommendations of the Council of European Union addressed to Romania. These become strong arguments in favour of our proposal:

– There is a high risk that the pandemic caused by Covid-19 will lead to an increase in development gaps (already too large at present) between Moldova and the rest of Romanian regions. This fact will take us far away from EU policies aimed at reducing the gap between the Capital and the Western regions of our country, on the one hand, and Moldova, on the other. The A8 Transcarpathian Motorway would take Moldova out of economic isolation, thus enabling it to use its competitive advantages.

– In the context of the pandemic, but also of the WHO warning about the health crisis, which endangers not only the health of the population, but also the jobs and incomes of the population, the A8 motorway becomes a relationship that could alleviate multiple crises at regional level;

– In the context of the health crisis, Iasi is playing an increasingly important role at regional level from health services perspective, being a medical centre, one of the largest and most complex in Romania, which serves the entire region. The lack of a fast transport infrastructure imposes a reduced accessibility for the inhabitants of the region to medical facilities which ensure almost all the serious cases at regional level. Moreover, another important project – the Regional Emergency Hospital, which will ensure emergencies services at the level of the whole development region, is now absolutely isolated from the perspective of rapid relations. A8 (in its entirety!) will solve these relational shortcomings. That is why it is necessary that the Ungheni-Iaşi- road Junction  A7 – A8 section, which puts Iaşi in relation to most of the territorial substructures of the region, be prioritized under another funding programme – POT 2021-2027 (Operational Transport Programme). 

  1. Priorities identified in the context of the European Semester

Compared to the European Union, Romania has major problems in terms of road and rail network. Reduced and anyway delayed investments not only perpetuated, but, even worse, widened development gaps. Even in terms of the environment, things are not better if we consider the gas emissions that are recorded in transport, construction, heating etc.

The construction of the A8 highway would reduce the pollutant emissions, when we consider the shorter distance across the mountains from Moldova to Transylvania. The necessary time and energy consumption would decrease. Transport by electric cars, practically non-polluting, could be boosted by the construction of fast charging stations along the highway.

The mobility of goods and people, especially of those engaged in production cycles, would thus be favoured, helping to reduce development gaps between Moldova and other regions of Romania, implicitly in relation to other regions and states of the European Union.

Moldova is an isolated region, the underdevelopment of which is appreciably caused by poor road infrastructure, particularly in the East-West direction. The lack of a rapid crossing of the Eastern Carpathians – a major geographical barrier – is a shortcoming for attracting investment from companies, regions or states that have capital to invest in directly productive capacities. Freight transport is seriously affected due to accessibility and connectivity issues. An integrated market cannot exist without a fast, cheap and secure transport network.

Competitiveness is a problem for many companies in Romania, largely due to deficiencies in infrastructure, whether we are talking about the transport, energy, water, communications, digital one, etc.

Romania has not only major problems regarding the transport network, but also in terms of road safety, in relation to the situation in the European Union. And Moldova has an even worse situation in comparison to the rest of the country, which causes a large number of road deaths. Clearly, the construction of motorways in the region and the modernization of existing roads would help reduce this unwanted national and regional marker. 

  1. National Recovery and Resilience Plan

This document is a necessary framework for defining reform measures that meet the priorities set at EU level, the Country Specific Recommendations and the Country Reports drafted by the European Commission. A number of directions for action have been identified in terms of policies destined to respond to economic challenges and the Europe 2020 National Goals, which justify our proposal, as follows:

– In case of Chapter 3. Policies to respond to economic challenges, subchapter 3.2. The business environment and competitiveness, we identified as directions for action: the creation of an environment favourable to public and private investments, the development of transport infrastructure and the development of sections with economic growth potential; the Transcarpathian relationship A8 is a good example, in this respect;

– In case of the same chapter, Policies to respond to economic challenges, subchapter 3.2. Strengthening the administrative capacity and other government measures, we have identified as directions for action: implementing sustainable development objectives, increasing the absorption capacity of European funds, continuing the decentralization process, territorial development, improving housing conditions and improving e-government solutions;

– In case of Chapter 4, Europe 2020 National Objectives, subchapter 4.1. Employment, we have identified as directions for action: maintaining jobs in economic sections which undergo difficulties due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, mobilizing certain segments of the population to enter the labour market, increasing the number of jobs and diversification of local economies in rural areas;

– Also, in Chapter 4, Europe 2020 National Objectives, subchapter 4.7 Tertiary education, we identified as directions for action: increasing the quality of higher education and correlation with the labour market, supporting rural students, disadvantaged groups and non-traditional students, developing institutional capacity and increasing the degree of internationalization of higher education;

– In the same chapter, Europe 2020 National Objectives, subchapter 4.8 Social inclusion and combating poverty, we have identified as directions for action: the socio-economic development of local communities and the reform of the health system. 

  1. National strategic documents in the field (Strategies, regional plans, etc.) / Applicable national legislation in force

The construction of the A8 is supported by the following strategic documents and legislation in force:

  • Law 291/2018 on the approval of the investment objective Iași-Târgu Mureș Motorway, Unirii A8 Motorway Târgu Mureș – Târgu Neamț – Iași – Ungheni;
  • Emergency Ordinance no. 105/2020 supplementing Law no. 291/2018;
  • North East Regional Development Plan 2014-2020 – Endorsed by the Regional Committee for the drafting of the North East Regional Development Plan on 23.10.2014;
  • North-East Regional Development Plan 2021-2027 drafted by the North-East Regional Development Agency Territorial Policies, Strategies and Analysis Service – October 2020 version;
  • General Transport Master Plan of Romania Published in the Official Gazette, Part I no. 778bis of October 4, 2016;
  • Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Union’s guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network COM (2011) 650 final / 2 2011/0294;
  • County and local development strategies of the Territorial Administrative Units of the North-East Region. 
  1. Conclusions

The A8 Motorway is part of the strategic projects of the General Transport Master Plan (approved by GD 666/2016) with the 2 sections, respectively Târgu Mureș – Ditrău – Târgu Neamț and Târgu Neamț – Iași. The implementation deadline of the Târgu Mureș – Ditrău – Târgu Neamț section is the period 2016-2026. We notice that even in MPGT (General Transport Master Plan) the final implementation term is 2026.

At the same time, the Iași – Târgu Mureș motorway has been, ever since 2006, included in the National Spatial Planning – Section I – Transport Network (Law 363/2006), a strategic document that includes the directions for the development of the transport infrastructure.

Along with the expansion of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) – according to Regulation (EU) no. 1315/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network and repealing Decision no. 661/2010/EU, from 2012, the A8 Highway is located on the main European transport corridor Timișoara – Sebeș – Turda – Câmpia Turzii – Târgu Mureș – Iași – Ungheni.

Given the above, it should be noted that the European desideratum imposes the deadline 2030 for the completion of the main transport network (TEN-T Core Network).

The construction of the A8 Motorway (Ungheni – Iaşi – Târgu Mureş) through the PNRR programmes (Târgu Mureş – Ditrău – Târgu Neamţ section – Paşcani Junction with A7) and POT 2021-2027 (Ungheni – Iaşi – Paşcani Junction section with A7) will mean an extra accessibility at all scalar levels.

At the local and regional scalar levels, A8 will solve the problem of intraregional circulation, especially on the vectors to and from Iaşi – the largest territorial centrality of the region. Thus, the inhabitants of all Moldovan localities will be able to access in a much shorter time territorial services, such as medical, educational (high school, university and postgraduate), airport, administrative, etc.

Strictly speaking at the local level of Iaşi, the A8 Ungheni – Popricani – Leţcani section is also the northern road belt beltway of the largest Moldovan urban agglomeration (approximately 420 thousand inhabitants by 2020), being the only road connection capable of draining transit traffic. This section is extremely important for the access of Moldovans to two other objectives, among the most important at the regional level: the airport and the Regional Emergency Hospital. For this last important objective for the entire region (itself still in Project Design phase), the location of which is in the vicinity of the road junction from Popricani, the A8 is the only viable access alternative.

At the regional (national and transnational-continental) levels, the middle position of this relationship within Moldova, but also in Transylvania, ensures maximum efficiency in terms of capturing medium and long-distance flows from both sides of the Carpathians, which are currently carried out in extremely difficult conditions on the narrow and winding road connections that cross the mountains through the Prislop, Mestecăniş, Cheile Bicazului, Petru Vodă, Tulgheș, Bucin, Ghimeş and other passes.

From the perspective of long-distance relations, A8 is the only Transcarpathian relation belonging to the TEN-T Core network that is oriented on the Western vector. This feature makes the A8 the most efficient way to the EU’s hard economic core. Moreover, even in the absence of projects to continue this fast road to the East, to Chisinau, Odessa, Nikolaev, or further, to Rostov-on-Don (southern European Russia – the Eastern terminus of the E58), this highway will be on the most efficient way that will connect the Republic of Moldova, southern Ukraine and South-Eastern European Russia with Central and Western Europe.

A8 is also the only relationship capable of removing Moldova from isolation – one of the poorest European regions – and enhancing the comparative and competitive advantages of this territory, which still has a younger population than the rest of Romania and relatively qualified, but whom, in the absence of investments in the various economic sections in the region, is forced to take the path of migration (one in three Romanian migrants is from Moldova). This enhancement will make possible reducing the important economic gaps between Moldova and the rest of the regions in Romania, gaps that have deepened in recent decades.

What is also very important is that the construction of this section of the A8 through PNRR funding would weaken the financial pressure on POT 2021-2027, which must ensure the financing of a significant number of European projects – Pitesti – Sibiu, Ploiesti – Brasov, Ungheni– Iasi, road junction with A7 motorways, the missing sections from the Transylvania Motorway, the express roads Piteşti – Craiova, Focşani – Galati – Brăila, Brăila – Tucea etc.

These are the main reasons why MDM considers as necessary and opportune the introduction of the A8 trans-mountain section (Târgu Mureş – Ditrău – Poiana Largului – Târgu Neamţ – Motorway junction with A7) in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the inclusion of the entire A8 Motorway in the Transport Operational Programme 2021-2027.

  

Annex no. 1 – Maps

Fig. 1: The accident rate along national roads (source: PNRR, p. 31)

Fig. 2 – Road projects from the PNRR list

Fig. 3: The theoretical territorial structures of medical services, university education, airport services and the intensity of urban polarization

Fig. 4  – The percentage decrease of time distance to Budapest – vector A8

Fig. 5 – The percentage decrease of time-distance to Budapest – vector A13

Fig. 6 – The most efficient itineraries from Iaşi to the western and southern part of Romania (via A8 and A13)

Fig. 7 – The most efficient itineraries from Bacău to the western and southern part of Romania (via A8 and A13)

Annex no. 2 – tables

Data on increasing the accessibility of important places on the A8 motorway junctions, but also of the 8 county residences in Moldova, located or not on the A8 route (Bacău, Botoşani, Focşani, Galaţi, Iaşi, Piatra Neamţ, Suceava and Vaslui ) in terms of reducing long traveling distance to Budapest.

Table no. 1 – A8

  Road junction

 

Distance to Budapest (km)*

 

Time distance to Budapest (2020 – min.)

 

Distance to Budapest Via A8 (km)

 

Estimated time distance to Budapest (min.)

 

Decreasing the time distance (min.)

 

Decreasing the time distance

(%)

 

Motorway junction Ungheni, Iasi 842 720 860 470 -250 34.7
Motorway junction Nord-Popricani 828 683 835 455 -228 33.4
Iasi 825 686 833 462 -224 32.7
Motorway junction West-Letcani 812 671 820 447 -224 33.4
Motorway junction Tărgu Frumos 781 644 790 431 -213 33.1
Motorway junction Pascani 754 620 770 420 -200 32.3
Hârlău 809 676 818 463 -213 31.5
Botosani 751 619 836 486 -133 21.5
Dorohoi 756 619 760 494 -125 20.2
Darabani 796 659 800 534 -125 19.0
Stefăneşti 801 679 906 546 -133 19.6
Suceava 709 578 831 453 -125 21.6
Radăuţi 710 578 866 488 -90 15.6
Gura Humorului 674 547 866 488 -59 10.8
Campulung  Moldovensc 644 522 792 491 -31 5.9
Vatra Dornei 602 478 732 474 -4 0.8
Vicovu de Sus 717 582 891 513 -69 11.9
Roman 786 645 803 438 -207 32.1
Piatra Neamţ 748 610 772 439 -171 28.0
Motorway junction Targu Neamt 737 603 732 399 -204 33.8
Motorway junction Poiana Largului 678 568 697 379 -189 33.3
Bacau 876 623 845 461 -162 26.0
Oneşti 828 567 895 517 -50 8.8
Comâneşti 850 590 900 519 -71 12.0
Sascut 870 614 891 486 -128 20.8
Husi 905 760 912 537 -223 29.3
Barlad 938 662 947 556 -106 16.0
Vaslui 870 724 897 516 -208 28.7
Galaţi 969 703 1034 611 -92 13.1
Tecuci 891 626 933 527 -99 15.8
Targu Bujor 937 680 980 582 -98 14.4
Focşani 877 613 955 531 -82 13.4
Adjud 866 609 903 493 -116 19.0
Tişiţa 896 633 933 510 -123 19.4
Vidra 842 579 964 541 -38 6.6

* Kilometer distance to the smallest time distance

  

 Table no. 2 – A13

  Road junction

 

Distance to Budapest (km)*

 

Time distance to Budapest (2020 – min.)

 

Distance to Budapest Via A8 (km)

 

Estimated time distance to Budapest (min.)

 

Decreasing the time distance (min.)

 

Decreasing the time distance

(%)

 

Motorway junction Ungheni, Iasi 842 720 1067 585 -135 18.8
Motorway junction Nord-Popricani 828 683 1034 565 -118 17.3
Iasi 825 686 1029 569 -117 17.1
Motorway junction West-Letcani 812 671 1016 554 -117 17.4
Motorway junction Tărgu Frumos 781 644 984 537 -107 16.6
Motorway junction Pascani 754 620 956 521 -99 16.0
Hârlău 809 676 1012 569 -107 15.8
Botoşani 751 619 1024 590 -29 4.7
Dorohoi 756 619 1076 607 -12 1.9
Darabani 796 659 1116 648 -11 1.7
Ştefăneşti 801 679 1125 666 -13 1.9
Suceava 709 578 1032 563 -15 2.6
Radăuţi 710 578 1078 598 20 -3.5
Gura Humorului 674 547 1077 596 49 -9.0
Campulung  Moldovensc 644 522 1063 607 85 -16.3
Vatra Dornei 602 478 1105 650 172 -36.0
Vicovu de Sus 717 582 1092 623 41 -7.0
Roman 786 645 921 503 -142 22.0
Piatra Neamţ 748 610 937 547 -63 10.3
Motorway junction Targu Neamt 778 630 984 549 -81 12.9
Motorway junction Poiana Largului 678 568 1028 588 20 -3.5
Bacau 876 623 876 478 -145 23.3
Oneşti 828 567 828 451 -116 20.5
Comâneşti 850 590 865 490 -100 16.9
Sascut 870 614 922 519 -95 15.5
Husi 905 760 1005 628 -132 17.4
Barlad 938 662 932 565 -97 14.7
Vaslui 870 724 960 568 -156 21.5
Galaţi 969 703 993 602 -101 14.4
Tecuci 891 626 915 526 -100 16.0
Targu Bujor 937 680 962 581 -99 14.6
Focşani 877 613 896 509 -104 17.0
Adjud 866 609 866 492 -117 19.2
Tişiţa 896 633 896 508 -125 19.7
Vidra 842 579 927 539 -40 6.9

* Kilometer distance to the smallest time distance

 ***

Mișcarea pentru Dezvoltarea Moldovei (www.miscareamoldova.ro) is a nonprofit regional organization with subsidiaries in Bacău, Botoșani, Galați, Iași, Neamț, Suceava, Vaslui and Vrancea counties that militates for introducing the problems of Moldova on the national agenda, for unblocking major investments in infrastructure, for balance in allocating national budget resources and for fiscal and administrative efficiency,  through de-centralization and regionalization.

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