The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to provide a €90m ($97.5m) loan to Družba za avtoceste v Republiki Sloveniji (DARS) for upgrading and extending the Karavanke tunnel that connects Austria and Slovenia.

Karavanke tunnel links the motorway between Slovenia and Austria along with Central and South-Eastern Europe. The project was developed in cooperation with Austrian motorway operator ASFINAG.

The funding from EIB will allow DARS to expand the tunnel with a new tube, renovate the existing tube and to comply with the European Union’s safety regulations.

EIB has also agreed to provide a separate loan of €95m ($102.9m) to Austrian motorway operator ASFINAG to connect the existing highway in the country to the new 8km-long tunnel.

The new tunnel tube is expected to increase safety and reduce queues on the TEN-T corridor between the Baltics, Adriatic and Mediterranean.

EIB vice-president Lilyana Pavlova said: “The EIB’s support for the Karavanke Tunnel expansion and safety improvements continues our long tradition of investing in transport networks for Europeans.

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“The tunnel will create new business opportunities in this part of the EU, improve road safety and reduce travelling time for millions of people, especially during the summer holidays. Today’s signature is just the latest in a series, and it builds on a long-established and successful partnership with DARS.”

Once completed, the Karavanke tunnel could reduce the likeliness of traffic accidents and kilometres-long vehicle queues on both sides of the tunnel, enabling easy movement of goods and services and people along one of Europe’s key transit corridors.

The project could also have a positive impact on the environment and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and pollutant levels (nitrogen oxide (NOx) hydrocarbons and dust) emitted by queuing vehicles.

DARS CEO Tomaž Vidic said: “With today’s €90 million agreement, we are closing the financial structure for the eastern tube of the Karavanke tunnel, in order to eliminate the bottleneck in road traffic between Slovenia and Austria.

“It will significantly improve traffic flow and the safety of this cross-border tunnel, which is also the longest road tunnel in Slovenia.”


Image: EIB offers loan for Karavanke tunnel upgrade in Slovenia. (Credit: Pixabay/Shireen C. von Schulthess.)