TBILISI, April 14, 2011 - The World Bank is working with the Government of Georgia to help address the four land slips that have occurred on the Vaziani-Gombori-Telavi (VGT) along 1.6 kilometer section between kilometer marks 40+200 – 41+800. Up to half of the road width and about 30 meters long sections have been damaged due to the slips. Extra signs and barriers have been installed on each section to provide safety for the road users. The VGT road remains open for traffic and passable.
The World Bank approved a US$ 30 million IBRD loan for the Kakheti Regional Roads Improvement Project for Georgia in November 2009. The development objective of the Project is to reduce transport costs and improve access and traffic safety for the Kakheti regional roads.
Rehabilitating the 55-km Vaziani-Gombori-Telavi (VGT) road was an essential part of this Project. The World Bank team had worked closely with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia (MRDI), responsible for policy setting and with the Roads Department under the MRDI which was responsible for implementing the Project.
The Gombori-Telavi section of the VGT road is known to be prone to land slips, like the ones currently occurring. These land slips are associated with unstable mountain slopes resulting in continuous soil movement in specific areas. This has also historically affected local houses and landscape. Both the Government and the World Bank were fully aware of a large land slip area affecting this road.
A number of alternative technical solutions to address the problem of land slips were considered during the design stage. These included either bypassing the land slip area or stabilizing the land slips with concrete piles or by constructing a by-pass tunnel. The cost of each option and economic returns were compared with the most economically feasible option which consisted of keeping the road in its previous location and providing for continuous maintenance including very frequent rebuilding of affected areas. Based on the expected traffic levels, these solutions would not have been economically feasible and, additionally, would not have guaranteed the absence of land slips.
Following the design studies, the most feasible solution was implemented. Continuous maintenance and repairs when land slips occur, and proper signaling to warn drivers of the land slip area and adapt their speed accordingly are part of the selected solution and have been included in the design.
Results achieved to date
- Civil works for the rehabilitation of 55 kilometers of Vaziani-Gombori-Telavi Road have mostly been completed and the road is open for traffic.
- The Project has improved connectivity for the Kakheti Region. It has also created local employment.
- The road rehabilitation has reduced travel distance from Tbilisi and Vaziani to Telavi by 57 kilometers, and will likely contribute to the economic rejuvenation of the region, especially agricultural activities.
- The traffic observed since the road was opened is exceeding initial estimates.
- Additional works are still scheduled in 2011 to complete the rehabilitation activities. These include further slope stabilization, finalizing signaling and road side infrastructure.
- Technical assistance activities mostly related to road safety to improve other roads in Kakheti are also ongoing.
The road is under the maintenance responsibility of the contractor. Once the current contract is over, the MRDI and the Roads Department will have to appoint a new contractor to continue with road repairs, as required. The contractor will continue constant monitoring of the road and land slips, provide additional signaling to ensure road safety, and continue repair works to keep the road in a passable and safe condition.
The World Bank encourages the MRDI and the Roads Department to continue to closely monitor the road condition and take necessary measures to ensure road quality and safety. The Bank is also monitoring the developments and will continue to work with the Government on how best it can support these efforts.