Bucharest Metropolitan Association
Gianina Panatau, Director

Metropolitan coordination in the development and implementation of infrastructure road system to increase accessibility and cohesive territorial development

In Romania, the legal framework for local authority partnerships has existed since 2001 in the form of Intercommunity Development Agencies, based on the French model. Based on this legal framework, the establishment of metropolitan areas in Romania began around 20 years ago, with the role of implementing joint public utility services, but without having a significant impact on local development. However, the need of the Territorial Administrative Units (UAT) for coherent development, common and interconnected projects, common infrastructure, led to the formalization of metropolitan areas with the Law no.246/2022. It is not an ideal legal framework. However, the recognition and definition of metropolitan areas in Romania is a first step, and together with the Federation of Metropolitan Areas and Urban Agglomerations in Romania (FZMAUR) there is a focus to improve upon it. Also, the new Urban Planning Code talks about a new form of planning, namely the General Urban Plan of the Metropolitan Area.  


Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, surrounded by the Ilfov County, forms the Bucharest Metropolitan Area and has the same border as the development region. The region has experienced significant economic growth and plays a crucial role in the country’s economy. Around 12 percent of Romanian population lives in the Bucharest metropolitan territory.
This is a dense urban core surrounded by many smaller and less developed areas (8 cities, 32 communes and 91 villages), with the main activities taking place in the central city, which is served by a road network ill-equipped for current levels of traffic. These conditions led to:
1.Traffic congestion;
2.Increased commute times;
3.Parking challenges;
4.Public transportation demand;
5.Environmental impact;
6.Need for investments in infrastructure upgrades.

The main challenge for the region is to secure investment to improve the infrastructure road system to increase accessibility and cohesive territorial development at the metropolitan level. 

Planning and financing measures

Three planning and financing measures have been implemented to address and tackle these challenges:

Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for Bucharest metropolitan area
The local authorities understood the need for development and planning of transport at the metropolitan level, and in 2016 created the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (original name, PMUD – Planul de mobilitate urbană durabilă 2016-2030). This fostered the reorganisation of Bucharest Public Transport Company and transformed it into STB (Bucharest Transport Company) in 2017.
By integrating various transport services under a unified entity, local authorities aimed to address the fragmentation and inefficiencies of the previous system.

Infrastructure Investment
In 2019, work started on the A0 highway, a  100-km ring road that will surround Bucharest and is also part of the Transcarpathia Corridor, ensuring the connection between the Black Sea and the western borders of the country. The project will also expand the metropolitan area from an economic point of view, through the development of the real estate market in the peri-urban area, and the industrial parks and logistics centres in the proximity of A0.

Orbital Project
The benefits of the A0 project to the metropolitan area are complemented by the development of the Bucharest Orbital Project, which involves the construction of radial roads that connect the Bucharest Ring Road with the existing beltway (DNCB) and the urban space of the Municipality of Bucharest. The Bucharest Metropolitan Area oversees the project’s implementation. Started in 2022, it will be finalised by 2028, with an estimated value of approximately €700m, being financed through the National Transport Program, respectively from the Cohesion Fund of the European Union.
Creating a new system of connectivity, Bucharest Ring Highway will integrate the large boulevards of Bucharest, the DNCB and the A0 project. This will optimise and reduce congestion on streets and boulevards in the areas of interference between the urban and peri-urban areas of the metropolitan region.

The Bucharest Orbital Project

In this context things will change profoundly in the coming years. The Orbital Project seems in fact an opportunity to introduce a different approach to territorial development by looking at the new axis as a way to frame a green belt while working to achieve a balanced quality of life throughout the overall metropolitan dimension. Moreover, this is a very good example where the responsibility for the coordination is at the metropolitan scale, implying decision on allocation of services, housing developments combined with agriculture production and conservation of ecosystem services. 

AO highway system

Metropolitan Partnerships in action across Urban and Rural to read about more cases of metropolitan partnerships from across Europe.