Romania Table of Contents
As a result of a long-term effort to develop inland navigation, river transport increased by 50 percent during the 1980-85 period. Except for the lower Prut River in the east and the Bega Canal in the west, commercial navigation was restricted to the Danube waterway. The Danube-Black Sea Canal, which became operational in 1984, was the costliest engineering project in the country's history. The 64-kilometer canal linking Cernavoda and Constanta required excavating twice as much earth and rock as had the Panama Canal. The massive undertaking involved building some 150 kilometers of access roads, modernizing 80 kilometers of railroad track, and erecting thirty-six major bridges. Three important new port facilities were developed along the canal: Cernavoda, projected to transload as much as 7 million tons annually; Medgidia, expanded to handle 11.5 million tons a year; and Basarabi, which had a capacity of about 1 million tons annually. With an average depth of 7 meters, the canal can accommodate seagoing ships as large as 5,000 deadweight tons and drafts of 5.5 meters. The canal was projected to carry up to 75 million tons of freight annually, but in its first five years of operation, traffic was disappointingly light.
In 1983 work began on a twenty-seven-kilometer lateral canal running northeast from Balta Alba on the Danube-Black Sea Canal through two natural lakes to a new port being built on the Black Sea at Midia. Two new ports were built along the route at Ovidiu and Luminita. Officially known as the Poarta Alba-Midia-Navodari Canal, it was opened to traffic in late 1987.
In 1985 Romania undertook the second-costliest canal project in its history. The project would tranform the southern part of the Arges River into a seventy-two-kilometer navigable canal, providing Bucharest a direct link to the Danube and the Black Sea. The project had originally been started in 1952 but had been abandoned shortly thereafter.
Upstream from Cernavoda, a chain of weirs and locks was built on the Danube to ensure a minimum navigation depth of 2.5 meters as far as the Yugoslav border. Aside from Galati and Braila, which could be considered seaports, the most important inland ports were Giurgiu, Drobeta-Turnu Severin, and Orsova.
Data as of July 1989