Slovenian motorway operator Družba za avtoceste v Republiki Sloveniji (DARS) has secured a €90m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to expand the Karavanke Tunnel.

The funding will be used to build a second tube of the motorway tunnel, as well as to rehabilitate the existing one to meet European Union safety regulations.

Karavanke is a border tunnel connecting Slovenia with Austria, as well as with Central and Southeastern Europe.

DARS CEO Tomaž Vidic said: “With today’s €90m agreement, we are closing the financial structure for the eastern tube of the Karavanke Tunnel, in order to eliminate the bottleneck in road traffic between Slovenia and Austria.

“It will significantly improve traffic flow and the safety of this cross-border tunnel, which is also the longest road tunnel in Slovenia.”

EIB has also allocated a separate €95m loan to Austrian motorway operator ASFINAG to connect an existing highway to the new 8km-long tunnel.

Once complete, the project is expected to reduce congestion on the tunnel, facilitating traffic movement. It will improve connectivity with the Baltic, Adriatic and Mediterranean core Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) corridors.

EIB vice-president Lilyana Pavlova said: “The EIB’s support for the Karavanke Tunnel expansion and safety improvements continues our long tradition of investing in transport networks for Europeans.

“The tunnel will create new business opportunities in this part of the EU, improve road safety and reduce travelling time for millions of people, especially during the summer holidays. Today’s signature is just the latest in a series, and it builds on a long-established and successful partnership with DARS.”

In December, EIB awarded a €350m loan to renovate the A9 highway near Amsterdam, the Netherlands.