The European Union (EU) has approved €363.3m ($398.7m) financing for the construction of a bridge over the Danube River in Romania.

According to an announcement by the Bucharest EC office, the project will be funded under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Negotiations on Enlargement and Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said: “This EU-funded project will clearly improve the quality of life in the region through shorter and safer road routes.

“Through simpler connections to Moldova and Ukraine, the cohesion project will also contribute to intensifying EU relations with its neighbours.”

Part of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), the project is aimed at improving north-south connections in Romania.

Travellers currently use the Giurgeni-Vadul Oii bridge, located 88km south of Brăila, or take the ferry from Brăila and Galati. The ferry is not available during spring and winter due to the threat of storms, fog and frost.

The new bridge is expected to decrease travel time by 50 minutes.

Italian construction company Astaldi secured a joint venture with Japanese company IHI to build the new suspension bridge over the Danube. The project is valued at €435m ($477.3m).

The contract includes the design and construction of a 1,975m-long suspension bridge with a main span of 1,120m and two side spans of 490m and 365m.

It also includes the construction of two bridge access viaducts measuring 110m, as well as 23km of connecting roads.

The project is expected to complete by the end of 2023.