The European Investment Bank (EIB) has allocated €905M (£777M) in loans for road and rail upgrades across Europe, including funding for the border tunnel between Austria and Slovenia.
Austrian motorway operator Asfinag is also investing around €168M (£142M) into the tunnel beneath the Alpine Karawanks mountain range, and the European Commission is putting in an additional €25M (£21M).
The 8km Karawanks Tunnel project will run parralell to the existing cross-border tunnel of the same name. Once the new tunnel is complete the original tunnel built in 1991 with be closed for a refit, before reopening.
On the Austrian side, contractors ARGE Swietelsky Tunnelbau and Swietelsky Baugesellschaft have bored 700M of tunnel. A 350m long bridge and an extension to the Autobahn have been also been completed in preparation for additional traffic.
The Austrians will construct approximately 4.5km of tunnel, with the remaining 3.5km handled by Slovenian contractors.
But after procurement law changes in Slovenia, state-owned motorway company DARS concluded that all six submitted tenders for the tunnel works at the Slovenian end were inadmissible. It is now looking to restart the process.
The second tunnel is scheduled for completion in 2024, and the original tunnel refit is estimated to take an additional two years, putting project completion sometime after 2026.
European Union–backed upgrade works worth €115M (£98M) are also scheduled for the nearby 8km Karawanks Railway Tunnel, a major route for international train services between the two counties.
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