Construction Begins on Armenia’s North-South Highway

Construction of the North-South highway kicks off

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—A Spanish construction company launched on Thursday the first phase of a multimillion-dollar government project to upgrade Armenia’s main highways stretching more than 550 kilometers to neighboring Georgia and Iran.

The Madrid-based group Isolux Corsan inaugurated the start of work on a 53-kilometer highway connecting Yerevan to the southern town of Ararat in the presence of its senior executives and Armenian government officials.

Corsan signed last April a $280 million contract with the Armenian Ministry of Transport and Communications to rebuild and expand this and another road running northwest of Yerevan. The total length of the two roads exceeds 90 kilometers. They are due to be refurbished before 2016.

The construction will be financed from a $500 million loan which the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) allocated to Armenia in 2009. The ADB loan is designed to support the implementation of the so-called North-South Project envisaging the reconstruction of the highways stretching from the Armenian-Iranian border to one of the three Armenian-Georgian border crossings.

The Armenian government says the planned upgrades will facilitate access to the Georgian and Iranian ports. Another aim of the ambitious project worth at least $1 billion is to enable Iran to use Armenian and Georgian territory for large-scale freight shipments to and from Europe.

“This will give us greater economic opportunities,” Transport and Communications Minister Gagik Beglarian told journalists at the ceremony. “The fact that we are going to have a fast transit motorway will also solve a very important national issue for Armenia.”

Beglarian said the road works will also translate into 1,000 new jobs. Daniel Domingo, a senior Corsan executive, said some of the company’s local staff will undergo special training. “We will hold special courses to bring their skills into conformity with European standards,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

The government has yet to indicate external sources of funding for the rest of what would be the single largest road project in Armenia’s history. Its implementation was originally due to start in 2010.

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4 Comments

  1. Hratch said:

    Great news. Infrastructure investments always benefit a nation. It’s too bad that this investment was not made during the Soviet era. We could have avoided the current expense.

    • Arman said:

      To remind, the Soviets purposely kept certain regions undeveloped in order to keep them dependent on neighboring peoples. The Soviets kept Armenia dependent on Azerbaijan and Georgia. There were several times more Soviet troops stationed in Azerbaijan than in Armenia, and that’s why Azerbaijan got all those weapons when the Soviet Union collapsed. Still, the Armenians managed to win in Artsakh. The only “miracle” that Armenia got from Soviet central planning is the nuclear power station in Medsamor, built in the early ’80s, I believe. Without the nuclear power station, Armenia would have suffered terribly more in the blockade.

    • www.Voskanapat.info said:

      It’s interesting to read about history from unbiased sources. I recently found out that the Great Silk Road was disrupted due to the invasion of Mongol Turks. This caused Europe to search for alternative ways, stimulated sea expeditions and eventually led to the discovery of the Americas…

      Remember that Columbus was born in 1451 in Genoa and he was 2 years old when Turks destroyed Constantinople in 1453 that was protected by Genoese troops… What would the world do without turkeys?!

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