Roki tunnel, running through the Caucasus mountain range and providing the only direct route between Russia’s North Ossetian Republic and Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia, was closed down for repair works on April 24.
A service tunnel, bypassing the main one, is used for traffic, but the narrow service tunnel can only handle one-way traffic and for that reason movement through the tunnel switches directions in every three hours.
The 3,660 meter long Roki tunnel, which was opened in 1985 and which played key role for Russia for sending its troops and military hardware during the August 2008 war against Georgia, is expected to remain closed for next three years.
“Monitoring will be carried out for next two weeks and as a result of this monitoring a decision will be made whether it will be possible or not to close down the main tunnel for three years – the entire period of repair works,” Anatoly Bibilov, the breakaway region’s emergency situations minister, was quoted by Tskhinvali-based news agency, Res, on April 23.
Reconstruction of the service tunnel in order to make it capable to handle with at least one-way traffic started in December, 2010.
During his trip to North Ossetia in September, 2011 Russia’s Transport Minister, Igor Levitin, also traveled to the Roki tunnel and said that repair works of the main tunnel would cost about 16 billion rubles (about USD 546 million).
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