Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) has awarded a $106.9m contract to build the 2km Zheleznitsa tunnel on the Struma motorway.

A local consortium comprising construction companies GP Group, Global Construction and Via Plan won the contract to build the tunnel on Struma motorway, which is claimed to be the longest in the country.

RIA signed the deal after the Commission for Protection of Competition and Supreme Administrative Court rejected a number of complaints against the method it had categorised the bids for the contract.

Under Operational Programme Transport and Transport Infrastructure 2014-2020, the project will be co-financed by the EU Cohesion Fund, as well as Bulgaria’s national budget.

“Construction of the tunnel is required to be completed by December 2023, otherwise Bulgaria risks losing EU funding.”

Construction of the tunnel is required to be completed by December 2023 in order to comply with the programme’s requirements, otherwise Bulgaria risks losing EU funding.

Cancellation of the previous two tenders has delayed the implementation of the project. In April 2017, the original tender was cancelled due to misinformation that the potential bidders could place offers higher than the indicative value of the project.

Tendering was cancelled in October 2017 due to changes in the technical criteria for the selection of offers.

Once complete, the Struma motorway will connect Bulgaria’s capital Sofia to Kulata checkpoint, which lies on the border with Greece.

The road will be constructed into four sections, with three having already been built.