The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $44.8m loan for the Dominican Republic for the construction of a $178m toll highway project.

The 123km tollway project, Boulevard Turístico del Atlántico, involves repairing a 99km section of the existing highway linking Nagua, Sánchez, Samaná, El Limón and Las Terrenas, as well as building a new 24km segment to connect Las Terrenas and Majagual on the Samaná peninsula.

The project is to receive a total of nearly $149m in funds from IDB as well as other bilateral and multilateral institutions. The loan from IDB comes without a sovereign guarantee.

Work will be carried out by a consortium comprising Colombian construction firms Odinsa and Grodco and highway concession holders Consorcio Remix of the Dominican Republic.

IDB team leader Víctor Salgado said the project will have a significant impact, because in addition to the improvements achieved by the Autopistas del Nordeste concession, the travel time between Santo Domingo and Samaná will be cut from five hours to less than two hours.