ADB to provide £342m loan for new highway in Georgia

WCN Editorial Team 2 Aug 2019 ASIA TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide $415m (£342m) to Georgia for the construction of a new highway.

The project is part of the government programme to improve the transport network and boost trade and tourism in the country.

The Kvesheti-Kobi Road Project will be the first in a series of upgrades planned for the North-South Corridor, a vital transit route for Georgia, Armenia and other regional trading partners.

The corridor will also intersect with the East-West Highway to the north of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, providing access to the shortest link connecting Central Asia with Europe and East Asia.

The 23km bypass will be constructed between the towns of Kvesheti and Kobi, passing through the Caucasus Mountains. The route is claimed to be a safer alternative for residents, tourists and freight trucks, as they face delays in the current road, especially on the Jvari Pass section. The section is also exposed to avalanches during winter.

The new bypass will follow a new alignment through the Khada Valley, which will feature a 9km tunnel, the longest in the country, and an advanced arch bridge on the Khadistskali River. The road will also provide a link to services and job opportunities for the Valley’s remote communities.

The estimated cost of the project is $558.6m (£461m), with co-financing of $60m (£49.5m) expected from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and $83.6m (£69m) from the Government of Georgia.

Construction is expected to begin in 2020. The road has been designed to comply with European standards and will have a single lane in each direction and an additional climbing lane uphill for heavy vehicles.

To overcome difficult terrain challenges in the Caucasus Mountains, the project will require five tunnels at a total length of 11km and six bridges at a total length of 1.6km.

Around 3,500 vehicles use the existing 35km road each day, facing high accident risks along with road closures for more than 40 days a year during winter.

ADB Central and West Asia director general Werner Liepach said: “A high-quality road network is essential for the growth and development of Georgia, which is located at the center of transit and trade routes linking Europe and Asia.

“The new bypass road will greatly improve the North-South Corridor and help enhance trade and regional connectivity, as well as increase the number of visitors in the region, which is home to world-class natural and cultural heritage assets.”

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Image: ADB has agreed to provide £342m loan for a new highway in Georgia. Photo: Courtesy of pasja1000/Pixabay.

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