Construction of highway tunnel almost complete

30 June 2014

The 1.5km long highway tunnel at Rurichhu reopened to traffic on 25 June 2014 after it was closed for several months for maintenance works.

Bhutan's first and only underground highway tunnel was initially opened for traffic on 29 January 2013.

Built by the Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project (PHPA) II, on the Wangdue-Tsirang highway, about 25km downstream from Wangdue bridge, the tunnel is 11m wide and can fit in two vehicles at a time. It has a 7.5m carriageway for vehicles and 1.3m each on both sides of the road for pedestrians.

As of 25 June, officials said works such as pavement concreting, invert concert lining, inside drainage, pedestrian walkway together with almost 3km of approach road has been completed. The ventilation and elimination works are in progress, they said.

"It was opened to traffic, as we had to excavate the old highway for the dam construction," project officials said.

The tunnel was opened to traffic last year despite not completing works on it and was used to temporarily divert traffic for the convenience of the project. However, it was closed again until the completion of other works.

PHPA II officials said the tunnel had to be constructed since the 1.5km stretch of the old highway would be submerged.