European route E79
|Length:||1,300 km (800 mi)|
|North end:||Miskolc (Hungary)|
|South end:||Thessaloniki (Greece)|
|Countries:||Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece|
|International E-road network|
European route E 79 is a road part of the International E-road network. It begins in Miskolc, Hungary and ends in Thessaloniki, Greece, also running through Romania and Bulgaria. The road is 1,300 km (810 mi) long.
The road follows the route:
- Hungary: Miskolc – Debrecen – Berettyóújfalu -
- Romania: Oradea – Beiuş – Deva – Petroşani – Târgu Jiu – Craiova – Calafat -
- Bulgaria: Vidin – Vratsa – Botevgrad – Sofia – Pernik – Blagoevgrad – Kulata -
- Greece: Promachonas – Serres – Thessaloniki -
The Hungarian section of E79 shares parts of its path with other E-roads, such as E60, E573 and E71.
The Romanian section of the road is particularly poor. Although only in the region of 500 km (310 mi) the road itself is single carriageway except in major towns. With little or no room for overtaking, a 50 km/h (31 mph) restriction when passing through the many minor villages, and a great number of slow vehicles, the average speed is generally in the low 50 km/h range.
Since 2007, the year of Romania's accession to the European Union, work has begun to improve the quality of this road:
- Oradea – Deva: The road is in poor condition. A contract was signed on 30 January 2012 to improve this section, with the joint venture CCCF Drumuri şi Poduri Timişoara–CO.GE.FA S.p.A.–Simco SRL. Contract value: 36.6 million euro. Financing sources: 50% from the state budget, 50% loaned from the European Investment Bank. Works on this section began, as of August 2012. The rehabilitation of this section of the road is expected to be finished by the end of 2014.
- Deva – Petroşani: The road has been significantly improved in the last years, being widened and having excellent asphalt quality on the entire section of the road (construction finished in 2012).
- Petroşani – Bumbeşti Jiu: This section is especially difficult because it goes through a narrow mountain valley, and because of the current works on the road. A contract worth 34 million euro for improving the condition of the road has been signed by CNADNR on 29 June 2012, with the Copisa Constructora Pirenaica–Chirulli Andrea Impresa Individuale–Coremi Inter joint venture. Works on this section are expected to take around two years, and should finish by the end of 2014.
- Bumbeşti Jiu – Craiova: The section Bumbeşti Jiu – Rovinari is in bad condition. CNADNR is currently auctioning the repair of this section, as of November 2012. Works are planned to be finished by 2014. The section Rovinari - Filiasi has been repaired in 2010, by FCC Construccion, and is currently in good condition. The section Filiaşi – Craiova is part of the DN6 road and is in good condition, also being repaired in 2010.
- Craiova – Calafat: This section is currently being re-auctioned for repairs, following appeals at the first auction. Works are planned to be finished by 2014–2015.
The Bulgarian section of E79 spans nearly 400 km (250 mi) from the North Bulgarian city of Vidin, connecting the Calafat–Vidin Bridge (or, alternatively, the Vidin-Calafat ferry line) across the Danube River and straight southwards towards Bulgaria's capital Sofia. The road has moderately good surface, it is constantly maintained and repaired and well signed with directing signs in Bulgarian and in English. Most of the length from Vidin to Botevgrad, the road is two-lane tarmac road following the natural relief of the landscape. There are sections where 3 lanes for overtaking slow-moving traffic are available. Rest stops and parking spots near the road are also available. Most of the time tarmac allows for speeds of over 140 km/h (87 mph), but that should not be attempted as the Bulgarian Traffic law prescribes a 50 km/h (31 mph) in most residential areas coinciding with the route of the road and not more than 90 km/h (56 mph) on the section of the road outside living areas. There are plans to upgrade Vidin-Botevgrad road to a grade separated expressway (close to motorway standart), allowing speeds up to 120 km/h (75 mph).
From Botevgrad to Sofia, E79 joins Hemus motorway, designated A2. At the Bulgarian capital Sofia you have to enter the Ring Road, until Sofia Northern Bypass motorway is built. Signage is available. From Sofia to south there are 52 km (32 mi) of motorways (A6 Lyulin motorway and A3 Struma motorway) to Dupnitsa-north interchange. The Bulgarian Traffic law allows speeds up to 140 km/h (87 mph) on motorways. Higher speed should not be attempted. The road is leading from Dolna Dikanya to south, right to the Kulata-Promachonas. All the way to the Border Check point the road is of the standard 2-lane tarmac except for the section from the Pernik Province-Blagoevgrad Province border and the southern entrance to the city of Blagoevgrad where the road is of highway type and is 8 km (5.0 mi) long. The remaining section from Dupnitsa to the border with Greece is to be upgraded to a motorway with planning being in the final phase. The section between Dupnitsa and Blagoevgrad, 37 km long, also is in construction and is scheduled to be completed in 2015. Also the last of these sections - lot 4 from Sandanski south to the Greek border of 13 km is under construction with a deadline for construction in March 2014. The stretch between Blagoevgrad and Sandanski - lot 3 - passes through the Kresna Gorge and is planned to feature a 13.3 km (8.3 mi) tunnel, which will be the longest motorway tunnel in Eastern Europe, whose construction will begin in 2015 and will cost app. EUR 650 mln.
There are no restriction to trucks driving in the weekends (except when temps rise above 38 °C (100 °F)) so they pose additional road hazard particularly high when driving at night. Traffic is usually heavy in weekends and overtaking has to be done swiftly and without risk, minding the other participants in the traffic.
At night, motorcyclists are required (and that is strongly advisable for their own safety) to use high-visibility vests.
The Greek Section of E79 has a length of about 120 km (75 mi). After crossing the Bulgarian-Greek border entering into Greece, the road drastically improves as it has been upgraded to a motorway; and speeds of up to 130 km/h (81 mph) are common. After the Promachonas Border Checkpoint, the new 4-6 lane motorway is well managed, repaired and policed up to the city of Loutra Serron. Construction and upgrading works are still continuing near Serres (due to state budget cuts, works are not scheduled to complete before 2015). After Serres the 4 lane motorway continues for a further 60 km (37 mi) and finally ends at a large junction with the A2/E90, which then provides direct access with Thessaloniki's Ring Road motorway and onto Chalkidiki, for travellers heading south.