A Spanish company will rebuild and expand more than 90 kilometers of major Armenian highways as part of a multimillion-dollar project to upgrade the country’s road infrastructure, officials said on Friday.
The company, Corsan Corvian Construccion, signed a $280 million contract with the Armenian Ministry of Transport and Communications in Yerevan in the presence of a senior executive from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Manila-based bank will finance the bulk of the construction work from a $500 million loan which it pledged to provide to Armenia in 2009.
The ADB loan is designed to support the implementation of the so-called North-South Project envisaging the reconstruction of some 550 kilometers of highways stretching from the Armenian-Iranian border to one of the three Armenian-Georgian border crossings. The Armenian government says a key aim of the $1.5 billion project is to enable Iran to use Armenian and Georgian territory for large-scale freight shipments to and from Europe.
Work on the project was initially due to start in 2010. But it was delayed ostensibly because of the government’s failure to find foreign contractors offering reasonable prices.
Under the contract signed by Transport and Communications Minister Manuk Vartanian and Corsan Corvian Construccion’s chief executive, Francisco Garcia Martin, the Spanish firm will upgrade highways running south and northwest of Yerevan. The construction is due to start within two months and take up to three years.
“A motorway of this quality will be built in our country for the first time ever,” Vartanian told journalists at the signing ceremony.
The government has yet to indicate external sources of funding for the rest of what would be the single largest road project in the country’s history.