The Republic of Belarus and the World Bank signed today the loan agreement for a US$150 million Road Upgrading and Modernization Project for Belarus, following the loan’s approval by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on November 11, 2010. The legal agreement was signed by Mr. Ivan Stcherba, Minister of Transport and Communications of Republic of Belarus and Mr. Ivan Velev, World Bank Resident Representatives in Belarus. The project is aimed at developing Belarusian transport infrastructure on a strategic transit corridor and introduces electronic tolling.
The first component of the project, with an allocation of US$131 million, will finance the upgrading of a total of 53 km of existing two-lane road sections between Minsk and Bobrujsk into a modern 4-lane motorway. The road sections to be upgraded are part of the Trans-European Transport Corridor IX, connecting the Black Sea with the Baltic countries.
Apart from reconstruction of the existing two lanes and the construction of two additional lanes to carry a design axle load of 11.5 tons it is planned to construct six two-level interchanges, seven overpasses, four bridges, two pedestrian underpasses and bypasses at the village of Sosnovy (about 5.7 km long) and at the village of Boyary (about 4.2 km) where the alignment will be shifted in order to increase the distance between the road and the nearest houses. The Bank will also finance improvement of road safety features in line with EU road standards and implementation of a number of environmental impact management features, such as protective noise barriers in the villages that are located near the alignment.
The second component, in the amount of $18 million, will introduce the initial stage of a new free-flow tolling system in Belarus using state-of-the-art technologies; helping to raise the efficiency of road network utilization and compliance with EU standards.
The third component, with an estimated cost of US$1 million will strengthen the institutional capacity of road sector institutions in Belarus and help them to converge towards European standards and methods.
The World Bank loan has a maturity of 15 years, including a 5 year grace period. Project implementation will start in 2011 and will take four years.
The Project is part of the Government’s National Transport Development Program ‘Roads of Belarus” for the period 2006-2015. Among the objectives of the program are the creation of an enabling environment for the development of the national economy, enhancement of road safety, implementation of the Government’s social policy, and facilitation of its private sector business initiative. The overall program includes the construction of four-lane motorways between Minsk and all five oblast capitals. In addition, the Government envisages relying increasingly on revenues from road tolling for the funding of road maintenance and further upgrading of the road network.
Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992. Since then, the Bank’s lending commitments in Belarus have totaled US$865 million for 12 projects; about thirty national programs received grant financing totaling US$22.8 million. Belarus is currently receiving World Bank financing for seven projects to upgrade road infrastructure, to improve energy efficiency, water supply quality and waste management, and to develop infrastructure in Chernobyl-affected areas.