Georgian PM: longest tunnel project “historic moment” for domestic road infrastructure

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze on Tuesday attended an event celebrating the completion of the construction of the Kvesheti-Kobi tunnel. Photo: Gov't Administration, 23 Apr 2024 - 16:24, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze on Tuesday attended an event celebrating the completion of the construction of the Kvesheti-Kobi tunnel, the longest in the country built to facilitate reduced travel time on the domestic North-South Corridor, by saying its opening marked a “historic moment” for the development of road infrastructure in the country.

Kobakhidze told the event the 9-km long and 15-metre-wide tunnel was a “project of the future”.

Such investments aimed at development will ensure the progress and development of our country and its European future [...] It is important to note that an innovative TBM drilling rig specially designed for this project was used to dig the tunnel. Today, we celebrate not only the completion of the tunnel but also the success of this new technology”, he said.

The tunnel section is a part of the Corridor passing along the riverbed of Tetri Aragvi along a 7-km section and through Arakveti village, before a hairpin section near Kvemo Mleta. The road passes through Gudauri, crosses Jvari pass and ends in Kobi village.

The construction of two-lane, 23-km-long asphalt concrete road also includes five bridges and tunnels, and renovation of another bridge. The project also envisages the construction of a new 5-km-long road to Gudauri and a tourist centre.

Kobakhidze said the road would “greatly reduce” travel time and improve safety standards, making transportation in the area “more comfortable and efficient”, adding the project took into account environmental standards, ensuring that it had “minimal impact” on the surroundings.

Currently, it takes an hour to travel from Kvesheti to Kobi, and due to the danger of avalanches, traffic is often prohibited. However, after the completion of this project, it will only take 15 minutes to safely pass through the section, resulting in a 45-minute reduction in travel time”, he said.

Kobakhidze noted the project would have an “important social effect” along with the economic one.

Kvesheti-Kobi project does not only involve the development of road infrastructure; It improves connections between the regions of our country and the mountain villages and towns”, he told the event.

The project is especially important for the 10 villages whose population used to be left without road connection for months every year and had no access to medical, educational or household services. The new road will connect these villages with central cities and regions of the country at any time of the year, which will open up new opportunities for improving their social and economic conditions”, the PM pointed out.

Photo: Gov't Administration

The Government head added the new road would also stimulate utilisation of tourism potential of the region. “That is why this project is a proof of the goal of our Government - inclusive development of the country's economy”, he said.

Kobakhidze acknowledged contributions of professionals involved in the design and construction of the tunnel - including engineers and builders - and thanked the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Chinese and Turkish companies involved in the ₾1.2 billion ($450mln) project.

The construction of the road is scheduled to be completed in stages between 2024-2025.