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18 August 2017

Slovak government stands firm over R2 Expressway, including Soroska Tunnel

First publishedon www.WorldHighways.com

Jan Durisin, head of Slovakia’s motorway operator NDS, has said that the R2 expressway, will go ahead despite watchdog fears of poor value for money.

Completion of the R2, that includes the Soroska Tunnel, remains 2024, he told Slovakian news agencies. NDS, he said, will start looking for a contractor to start work in 2018 on a stretch of the expressway near the town of Roznava.

R2 is a 360km route that will run from Kosice in the east across the country to Trenčín, near the Czech border in the west. It will pass through Bánovce nad Bebravou, Prievidza and Lučenec. Roznava is an economic and tourist centre around 70km from Kosice.

An expressway in Slovakia is usually a dual carriageway with lower standards than that of a motorway, but with the same restrictions. The speed limit is 130kph.

Durisin’s assertion comes after the shaky coalition government staved off heavy criticism from the finance ministry's Value for Money unit earlier this month. The unit advised against continuing to build the R2 expressway as planned and suggested expanding some sections of an existing road, according to a report by TASR-SLOVAKIA, the part-government-owned national news agency.

One option, the unit said, is to add lanes to existing roads.

Earlier this year, the country’s road construction programme in general received criticism from Miroslav Beka, head of the Slovakian division of global infrastructure group Hochtief. In an interview on television, Beka said the government’s plans for road development are in turmoil, both strategically and financially.

With no long-term strategy, there are no concrete plans and tenders are drying up even now, which will likely force some contractors into bankruptcy, he said in February. A major issue for the country’s contracting sector is a lack of money for the more rapid construction of roads.

EU funds for transport infrastructure have almost been exhausted," Beka reportedly said. "We need at least another €5.5 billion, but the state budget isn't able to cover this… Investors are ready [for public-private partnership projects]." he said. Projects such as the Soroska Tunnel might be good candidates for PPP contracts, he noted.

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