STA, 30 January 2020 - Slovenia's national motorway company DARS and Turkish builder Cengiz signed on Thursday the master agreement on the construction of the second tube of the Karavanke motorway tunnel, a step that comes more than two years after the original tender was published. Works could start in March, weather permitting.
"We're glad that after five rounds of appeals to the National Review Commission, we have finally signed the contract," DARS chairman Tomaž Vidic said.
Under the contract, Cengiz has 20 business days to submit a EUR 12 million bank guarantee, whereupon it will be able to start work.
Preliminary activities on the border tunnel - Austria has already made significant progress on its portion of the second tube - are to be initiated next week as DARS and Austrian motorway operator Asfinag meet to discuss the timeline.
Vidic said this was a five-year endeavour and problems may appear on either side of the border, which is why he would not venture to speculate whether Cengiz could catch up with the builder working on the Austrian section, which started works in September 2018.
"We think the problems are manageable. We have a skilled builder with a wealth of experience, which is key," he said.
Cengiz board member Asim Cengiz said Slovenian companies would be involved in the construction works. Talks with potential partners are already under way.
The contract is worth EUR 98.6 million VAT excluded and covers construction of 3,546 metres of tunnel on the Slovenian side of the border. The Austrian section is almost a kilometre longer.
Once the second tube is completed, the original tunnel, which entered service in 1991, will be closed for approximately two years for significant renovation and upgrade works.
Karavanke tunnel is one of the main transport routes between Slovenia and Austria. It is a key artery for cargo and one of the main entry points for millions of north European tourists en route to the Adriatic Sea.