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Breakthrough in the Karavanke Tunnel Project: A Path Through the Mountains

After an arduous three-and-a-half-year excavation, workers have finally pierced through the Austrian boundary of the Karavanke motorway tunnel, signalling a significant milestone in one of the most ambitious construction endeavors currently underway

This notable breakthrough, however, arrives months behind schedule, a delay attributed to challenging geological conditions encountered on the Slovenian side of the Karavanke mountain range. DARS, Slovenia’s national motorway company, has been navigating these unforeseen obstacles, striving to maintain the project’s momentum.

Infrastructure Minister of Slovenia Alenka Bratušek celebrated the completion of the final excavation works, expressing relief and anticipation for the next phases of the project. Despite the breakthrough, a considerable amount of work remains, including the laying of tarmac, and the installation of lights, ventilation, and signalling equipment. Bratušek anticipates the second tube’s opening to traffic in the forthcoming year, a development eagerly awaited by both nations.

The completion of the second tube, however, only marks the beginning of further renovations required in the first tube, indicating that the full benefit of dual-tube traffic flow will not be immediate. The Slovenian stretch of the second tube measures 3.5 kilometers, contrasted with the Austrian side’s 4.5 kilometers. Austrian contractors had already reached the Slovenian border by September 2021, highlighting disparities in progress between the two countries.

The slower pace of work on the Slovenian side can be traced back to delays in contractor selection, a process which resulted in the commencement of construction activities in August 2020, significantly later than their Austrian counterparts. The project, now spearheaded by Cengiz, a Turkish construction firm, is aimed for completion in the autumn of 2025, promising to enhance the Slovenia-Austria motorway connectivity.

As this critical infrastructure project inches closer to fruition, it stands as a testament to the resilience and collaboration across borders, set against the backdrop of the challenging Alpine terrain. The Karavanke tunnel’s expansion is not just a physical breakthrough but a symbolic one, paving the way for improved transportation, economic exchange, and unity between Slovenia and Austria.

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