Georgian PM launches Zestaponi Bypass Road as “important part” of Rikoti Pass Highway

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze on Friday attended the opening of the nine-kilometre Zestaponi Bypass Road. Photo: Gov't Administration, 26 Apr 2024 - 17:06, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze on Friday attended the opening of the nine-kilometre Zestaponi Bypass Road which allows drivers travelling on the country’s international East-West Highway to avoid entering the busy western city and instead use the road joining the E60 road at the Argveta junction.

Kobakhidze congratulated professionals involved in the project with the milestone and said the road was a “significant part” of the larger "project of the century" - the construction of the Rikoti Pass Main Highway between the eastern and western parts of Georgia.

The Prime Minister emphasised the project was “of great importance” for the transit function of Georgia and “crucial” for ensuring the country's economic progress. 

The East-West Highway is an important part of the trans-European network, the so-called Middle Corridor passing through Georgia [...] A number of large-scale infrastructure projects are being carried out for its development, all of which will contribute to the essential development of the transit function of our country”, he said.

Kobakhidze said the new section of the road was built with the latest technology and met environmental standards with a “high degree of safety”. He also noted travel time on the section was expected to be reduced by about half an hour.

In this section alone, four tunnels were cut and 11 bridges built, with very large-scale works carried out [...] It will relieve Zestaponi and open up new opportunities for development. Upon completion, the East-West Highway will be extended by 276 km, 36 km of which have already been built as part of the Rikoti project's 52-km road plan. The remaining sections are still under construction”, he said.

The PM also noted a 27-kilometre stretch of the Highway, opened last autumn, had “significantly reducing travel time”. 

Kobakhidze said the Rikoti Pass project had “no analogues in the reality” of the country and acknowledged the work of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and the Roads Department.

The PM said the Rikoti Pass was the “most critical and challenging” section for the development of the international highway, and emphasised the projects would not only reduce travel time and distance but also provide “comfortable and safe travel” and bring economic benefits to local residents.

Photo: Gov't Administration

He also lamented a “lack of interest” from the opposition United National Movement party and its “associated entities in the development of the country”. 

I was told several TV channels had not reported on the opening of the nine-kilometre [Kvesheti-Kobi] Tunnel a few days earlier. It seems they are hiding from people that, for example, the Zestaponi bypass is opening”, Kobakhidze said.

He added the Government was “committed” to completing the East-West Highway project “with the highest quality standards” and within timeframes.