The Bucharest City Hall will reserve RON 4.1 billion for investments in local infrastructure this year, the Hall decided last weekend. The construction works of a tunnel seen vital for traffic in the northern part of the City, of parking lots and operations in schools are some of the priorities for 2006.

"It is the largest budget Bucharest has had ever. With this budget, we can finally start the major infrastructure projects of the city", City mayor Adriean Videanu said when the General Council approved an overall income budget of up to 1.6 billion euro (RON5,7 billion).

Some two thirds of the money will be invested in infrastructure, with the support of another RON 0.3 bln from other sources.

Bucharest is one of the most crowded cities in Europe with road congestions paralyzing the whole urban area at rush hour. The situation is generally blamed on the fact that the former Communist regime developed Bucharest as a "vertical city", with most people living in blocks of flats. Parking lots are scarce while the number of cars has increased dramatically over the last several years.

The Hall plans to build 14,000 parking lots in downtown Bucharest and at major crossroads for a start. Traffic congestion is hoped to be dealt with by building a tunnel in the railway-heavy area of Basarab-North Station and another in the eastern Colentina area.