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Galatz


Road transportation network    EN

Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN

During the 18th century, most public roads in the Romanian Principalities were natural roads stretching along the vast Moldo–Wallachian plains or river valleys. The authorities were responsible with the maintenance of the “grand roads” connecting the capitals to the large provincial cities, to the Danubian harbours, and to the countries’ borders. The local population was compelled to a number of corvée days each year for the construction and mending of public roads, an obligation which increased during the periods of conflict between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, when land transportation acquired a strong strategic relevance[1].

Due to its position on Moldavia’s border with Wallachia, Bessarabia (Russia), and Dobrudja (Turkey) and as the country’s main port, Galaţi was well linked to the capital by way of two grand roads: Iaşi (Jassy) – Vaslui – Bârlad – Tecuci – Galaţi (the last section along the valley of the Sireth River) and Iaşi – Huşi – Folteşti – Galaţi (along the valley of the Pruth River). Another road connected Galaţi to Reni, across the Pruth, and further to the Ottoman citadels of Bender and Tighina (before the Russian conquest of the province of Bessarabia, in 1812). Across the Danube, in the province of Dobrudja, there also was a military road going to Constantinople. The Moldavian roads were badly preserved and considered almost impracticable, so that the agro–pastoral commodities were carried to Galaţi with many difficulties and with great expense[2].

The “Organic Statutes” established modern principles regarding the construction and maintenance of public roads, an activity that fell under the direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The state budget included a chapter of expenses for public roads and bridges, but the population was still obliged to work six days a year for the maintenance of public roads[3].

Under these circumstances, already during the Russian military occupation (1828–1834) the roads in the county of Covurlui started to be mended, taking into account the strategic importance of the district within the Russian military system. After 1834, the new Moldavian prince, Mihail Sturdza, paid a special attention to the development of the free port of Galaţi, and thus to its linkage to the country’s agricultural districts. The technical plan for the road Iaşi – Bârlad – Galaţi was drafted by Engineer L. Braun, and its actual construction was supervised by Engineer Ostwaldt, being completed in 1843. Other roads that connected Galaţi to Bârlad and Tecuci were also improved, but their quality remained problematic during the entire 19th century. At the same time, the authorities in Moldavia and Wallachia mended the route between Brăila and Galaţi, the Sireth River being crossed at Vădeni[4].

A new law was imposed in Moldavia in 1851, which stipulated a different approach to the construction and maintenance of public roads, divided into smaller sections and entrusted to the care of communal authorities, which nevertheless received funding from the state budget[5]. Mending works were done in 1853–1854, during the Russian military occupation, on the road Reni – Galaţi – Vădeni – Brăila (the latter section also modernised in 1860–1862), and then on the route Galaţi – Tecuci – Bârlad. However, public roads remained in a difficult state, and the transport of commodities was extremely expensive. Thus, by 1860, when a kilo of grain was 70–80 lei, its transport from Iaşi to Galaţi cost, on average, 30 lei, or about 40% of the product’s market value[6].

After the union of the Romanian Principalities, the construction and mending of public roads was divided into 12 circumscriptions, and the state started to invest in the building of modern metallic bridges. A new law for the construction of public roads was voted in 1868, stipulating that national roads were maintained by the state and regional roads with money taken from the budget of each county, the works being carried out by a departmental technical service, set up in all counties. A new law was passed in 1886, and it secured better conditions for improving the quality of public roads and for building bridges of modern materials (concrete and metal). Finally, the law of 1906 organised all local technical services under the coordination and control of a central authority: the General Direction of Bridges and Roads, part of the Ministry of Public Works[7].

In statistical terms, this progress is visible in the tables below. From a total of 7,884 kilometres of public roads in 1880, the network increased to 41,277 kilometres in 1901 and 45,604 kilometres in 1916. National roads represented about 10 percent of this total, but in absolute terms the network of national roads increased from 2,860 kilometres in 1896 to 5,111 kilometres in 1916. Most of these public roads were improved with modern works, such as the realisation of terraces, excavations, bridges, and covered with a layer of stone.

The situation of public roads in Covurlui County remained bad, as only a quarter of them were paved, and most of the rest was represented by natural ways. The tables below present the quantitative progress of this network of local roads.

Picture 4.2.2_1. The Map of Romanian Roads (1937)
Source: Enciclopedia României, IV, 43.

 

Table 4.2.2_1

Public roads, by categories, 1860–1916

(Kilometres)[8]

Years

Total

National

County

Vicinal

Communal

1860

-

775

-

-

-

1864

-

944

-

-

-

1866

-

1,068

-

-

-

1874

-

3,300

4,146

-

1880

7,884

-

-

-

-

1887

12,931

-

-

-

-

1896

19,977

2,860

3,890

8,861

4,366

1897

24,028

2,809

4,224

10,818

6,177

1901

41,277

3,150

5,034

20,101

12,992

1905

42,600

3,000

5,100

34,500

1909

43,300

3,100

5,000

35,200

1916

45,604

5,111

4,936

19,364

16,193

Table 4.2.2_2

Type of roads in Romania[9]

Year

Total

(km)

Paved

Natural

In progress

Km

%

Km

%

Km

%

1897

37,959

24,028

63.3

12,874

33.9

1,057

2.8

1901

41,377

24,823

60.0

12,973

31.9

3,581

8.7

1916

45,604

29,802

65.3

11,801

25.9

4,001

8.8

Table 4.2.2_3

Public roads in Covurlui County (1911)[10]

(Kilometres)

Type

Paved roads

Ready with embankments

Natural ways

Total

County

136.956

5.088

36.656

178.700

Vicinal

87.122

6.720

586.408

680.250

Communal

6.858

5.700

68.200

80.758

Total

230.936

17.508

691.264

939.708

Table 4.2.2_4

Public roads in Covurlui County (1913)[11]

Type

Paved roads

Ready with embankments

Natural ways

Total

County

134.635

10.042

25.323

170.000

Vicinal

88.305

3.875

588.075

600.250

Communal

6.858

5.700

68.200

80.758

Total

229.793

19.617

681.598

931.008

 


[1] Enciclopedia României, vol. IV, Economia naţională. Circulaţie, distribuţie şi consum (Bucharest: Imprimeria Naţională, 1943), 38–39; Andrei Oţetea, Pătrunderea comerţului românesc în circuitul internaţional (în perioada de trecere de la feudalism la capitalism) (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, 1977), 141–144.

[2] Ibid.; Paul Păltănea, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918, second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008), vol. I, 222–223.

[3] Enciclopedia României, IV, 39–40. More details on the situation of Romanian roads during that period in Nestor Urechia, Les routes en Roumanie (Bucharest: I. V. Socec, 1900); Ion I. Nistor, Drumurile noastre în ultima sută de ani (Bucharest: Cartea Românească, 1929); Leonid Boicu, “Căile de comunicaţie terestre în Moldova între 1834–1864”, part I, Anuarul Institutului de Istorie şi Arheologie din Iaşi, 4 (1967) and part II, Ibid., 5 (1968); idem, “Transporturile în Moldova între 1848 şi 1864”, in vol. Dezvoltarea economiei Moldovei intre anii 1848 şi 1864. Contribuţii (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Republicii Populare Române, 1963), 434–442.

[4] Păltănea, Istoria, I, 333–335.

[5] Enciclopedia României, IV, 40.

[6] Boicu, “Transporturile în Moldova”, 434–442, 451; Păltănea, Istoria, II, 41–42, 132–133.

[7] Enciclopedia României, IV, 41–42.

[8] Victor Axenciuc, Evoluţia economică a României. Cercetări statistico-istorice, 1859–1947, vol. I, Industria (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 1992), 347 (Table 318: Public roads, by categories, 1860–1945).

[9] Ibid., 348.

[10] D. Hagi Anton, Expunerea situaţiei judeţului Covurlui prezentată Consiliului Judeţian la deschiderea seziunei ordinare de la 15 octombrie 1911 (Galaţi: Stabilimentul de Arte Grafice “Moldova”, 1911), 43. Data for 1905 in Anuarul statistic al României pe anul 1906 (Bucharest: Imprimeria Statului, 1907), 430–431.

[11] I. Bastache, Situaţia judeţului Covurlui. Expunere prezentată Consiliului Judeţian în sesiunea sa ordinară de la 15 octombrie 1913 (Galaţi: Tipografia “Dunărea”, 1913), 83.


References

Websites:

Archival sources:

Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Primăria oraşului Galaţi (The Municipality of Galaţi), files starting with 1831.

Serviciul Judeţean Galaţi al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Galaţi Branch), Prefectura judeţului Covurlui (The Prefecture of Covurlui County), files starting with 1848.

Bibliography:

Axenciuc, Victor, Evoluţia economică a României. Cercetări statistico–istorice, 1859–1947, vol. I, Industria [Romania’s Economic Evolution. Statistical–Historical Researches, 1859–1947, vol. I, The Industry] (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 1992).

Bastache, I., Situaţia judeţului Covurlui. Expunere prezentată Consiliului Judeţian în sesiunea sa ordinară de la 15 octombrie 1913 [The Situation of Covurlui County. Expositions Presented to the County Council in Its Ordinary Session of 15 October 1913] (Galaţi: Tipografia “Dunărea”, 1913).

Boicu, Leonid, “Căile de comunicaţie terestre în Moldova între 1834–1864” [The Terrestrial Roadways in Moldavia between 1834 and 1864], part I, Anuarul Institutului de Istorie şi Arheologie din Iaşi, 4 (1967) and part II, Ibid., 5 (1968).

Boicu, Leonid, “Transporturile în Moldova între 1848 şi 1864” [The Transports in Moldavia between 1848 and 1864], in vol. Dezvoltarea economiei Moldovei intre anii 1848 şi 1864. Contribuţii [The Development of Moldavia’s Economy between 1848 and 1864. Contributions] (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Republicii Populare Române, 1963).

Enciclopedia României, vol. IV, Economia naţională. Circulaţie, distribuţie şi consum [Romania’s Encyclopedia, vol. IV, The National Economy. Circulation, Distribution and Consumption], edited by Dimitrie Gusti at alii(Bucharest: Imprimeria Naţională, 1943).

Hagi Anton, D., Expunerea situaţiunei judeţului Covurlui prezentată Consiliului Judeţian la deschiderea sesiunei ordinare de la 15 octombrie 1911 [The Exposition of the Situation of Covurlui County. Presented to the County Council at the Opening of the Ordinary Session of 15 October 1911] (Galaţi: Stabilimentul de Arte Grafice “Moldova”, 1911).

Nistor, Ion I., Drumurile noastre în ultima sută de ani [Our Roads in the Past Hundred Years] (Bucharest: Cartea Românească, 1929).

Oţetea, Andrei, Pătrunderea comerţului românesc în circuitul internaţional (în perioada de trecere de la feudalism la capitalism) [The Coming of the Romanian Trade in the International Circuit (During the Period from Feudalism to Capitalism] (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, 1977).

Pacu, Moise N., Cartea Judeţului Covurlui. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice [The Book of Covurlui County. Geographical, Historical and Mainly Statistical notes] (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891).

Păltănea, Paul, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918 [The History of Galaţi from Its Beginnings to 1918], second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008).

Urechia, Nestor, Les routes en Roumanie (Bucharest: I. V. Socec, 1900).


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