New Rikoti Pass tunnel longest in Georgia, says Ministry of Infrastructure

A 1,800-metre-long tunnel dug during ongoing works on Rikoti Pass is the longest found across the country. Photo: Ministry of Infrastructure, 22 Nov 2023 - 13:40, Tbilisi,Georgia

A 1,800-metre-long tunnel dug during ongoing works on Rikoti Pass, a major crossing between eastern and western parts of Georgia, is the longest found across the country, the Ministry of Infrastructure said on Wednesday.

The body said the new tunnel was cut parallel to an existing one on the Pass, which is part of the East-West International Highway.

Photo: Ministry of Infrastructure

Infrastructure Minister Irakli Karseladze said the new construction was “important” for enabling works to start in the existing tunnel. 

A large part of the final works of the new tunnel has been completed - the cover will be arranged, the installation of engineering and electrical networks will be completed, after which the tunnel will be opened for traffic”, he said.

The official added works were underway on 33 slopes on the Chumateleti-Khevi section of the Highway, while tenders had been opened for works for the stabilisation of a potential landslide area identified as a result of monitoring on the kilometre 149 section.

Karseladze also said efforts were underway to remove the special traffic mode introduced in April due to a threat of landslide on section “in the near future”.

Minister Karseladze meeting the workers. Photo: Ministry of Infrastructure

The Ministry said 50 out of 51 tunnels required for the ongoing works had been dug and 83 out of 97 bridges built. The body said traffic had already been opened on the 27-km, four-lane section from Khevi village to Shorapani town. 

The section includes 65 bridges and 38 tunnels that have reduced travel distance by eight kilometres and travel time by 25 minutes, the Ministry said.

Photo: Ministry of Infrastructure

Over 60 percent - or 261 km - of the East-West Highway has been opened for traffic, while construction continues on the remaining 81 km, which is due to be completed next year.