MRDI Unveils $2 Billion Road Construction Project

On June 12, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure (MRDI) of Georgia has unveiled an infrastructure development plan that focuses on East-West and North-South automobile routes. 

The First Deputy Minister and Chairman of the Roads Department, Irakli Karseladze, addressed the diplomatic corps, business associations and donors, outlining the main features of the ambitious plan.

The large-scale project is being financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), World bank (WB) and the Government of Georgia (GoG) with the total estimated cost of the construction reaching 2 billion USD.

The East-West corridor development envisions construction of 52 km of a 4-lane asphalt-beton road from Chumateleti to Argveta, in the central part of Georgia. The total estimated cost of East-West direction is 1.2 Billion USD. The Rikoti pass road construction is broken into 4 portions that will be put up for tender separately. The four lots will have various degrees of difficulty: ADB-financed F2 has 35 bridges and 20 tunnels in its 12.2 km interval, while F1, jointly financed by WB, EIB and the Government of Georgia, of roughly the same length, has 20 bridges and 3 tunnels. Among the benefits of the Chumateleti-Argveta corridor are the reduction of road length by up to 30km, reduction of travel time by 50% and increase in driving speed.

The North-South corridor connects Kvesheti and Kobi, located on two opposite ends of Gudauri Recreational Area. The construction is financed by ADB, with the invitation for prequalification notice for the larger lot posted on their website on June 5. The 12.72 km 2-lane road will have 4 tunnels and 6 bridges, among them – the 426m long arched bridge. The deadline for submission of prequalification applications is July 18, 2018, and ADB eligibility rules and procedures will govern the process. The second lot, with a 9km tunnel, is expected to go under an Advanced Construction Notice shortly. The construction works are estimated to be completed in 2021, just in time for the 2023 Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships that Georgia will host. In May 2018, International Ski Federation (FIS) has announced that Georgia’s winning bid was based on ski resorts of Gudauri and Bakuriani. FSS championships aside, numerous benefits of Kvesheti-Kobi road include improved experiences and safety for both visitors and local population, with destinations such as Kazbegi National Park, spectacular valleys and picturesque villages opening up for hikers and campers from all over the world.

“It is important that the design of the road creates one continuous flow, and is very sensitive to environmental issues and social impact”, said Karseladze while the 3D clips showing the design of each interval were played to the audience. It is not just the main roads and the quality of their surfaces, or the designs of bridges and tunnels, but also the auxiliary infrastructure such as exits, service roads, maintenance areas and ventilation requirements. The selection of the firms working on the design of the project shows excellent expertise in high-altitude areas and relief specifics. The project was designed in full compliance with modern European regulations and best practices, by the designers representing firms from Italy, Spain, UK and Turkey.

Breaking with the post-Soviet traditins of shady dealings in the construction industry, compromised quality and safety, MRDI has shown its willingness to ensure transparency on every step of the way, from pre-tender announcements, to the final delivery of the project by the contractors. The openness of the Ministry is a welcome change, as is the call to the diplomatic corps and business associations to encourage reputable construction companies to enter the Georgian market. “Increase in the number of strong construction firms participating in the tenders will give us a deeper, more competitive field, leading, in turn, to better results”, said Karseladze. “The Ministry is expecting to attract top construction firms that will become our reliable partners.”

Among the pre-requisites for the firms entering the bidding process, the Chairman of the Roads Department mentioned experience in construction of mountainous relief-specific elements, a history of successful management of large-scale projects, financial stability and excellent reputation.

By Kyra Devdariani

14 June 2018 14:49