Karawanks Tunnel (motorway)

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Karawanks Tunnel
Karawankentunnel Oesterreich.jpg
Northern entrance, Austria
Location Sankt Jakob im Rosental, Carinthia, Austria / Hrušica, Municipality of Jesenice, Slovenia
Coordinates 46°31′09″N 14°01′22″E / 46.51917°N 14.02278°E / 46.51917; 14.02278Coordinates: 46°31′09″N 14°01′22″E / 46.51917°N 14.02278°E / 46.51917; 14.02278
Route Karawanken Autobahn / A2 motorway
Work begun 1986
Opened 1991
Operator Autobahnen- und Schnellstraßen- Finanzierungs- Aktiengesellschaft (ASFiNAG)
Character Single-tube
Length 7,864 m (25,801 ft)
Number of lanes 2
Operating speed 80 km/h (50 mph)

The Karawanks Tunnel (German: Karawankentunnel, Slovene: Predor Karavanke or Karavanški predor) is a motorway tunnel crossing the Alpine Karawanks mountain range between Austria and Slovenia, with a total length of 7,864 m (25,801 ft) (4.89 miles), 8,019 m (26,309 ft) (4.98 miles) enclosure between the portals. Its construction began in 1986 and it opened on June 1, 1991. It connects the Austrian Karawanken Autobahn (A11) from Villach with the A2 motorway leading to Kranj and Ljubljana in Slovenia, decongesting the historic Loibl/Ljubelj and Wurzen/Korensko sedlo mountain passes.

Southern entrance, Slovenia

In the late 1970s it was planned as a two-tube tunnel, (one two-lane tube for each direction), but lower than expected levels of traffic have meant that it has remained a single tube, single lane, two-way tunnel. The tunnel was built between 1986 and 1991 by the Tauern Autobahn stock company at the behest of the Federal Republic of Austria, represented by the State of Carinthia. At its opening it was one of the best equipped tunnels with safety and surveillance systems: emergency phones, fire detectors, video surveillance, traffic signalling, radio and phone connections, air circulation monitoring and carbon monoxide sensors.

Less than a month after its opening, in late June 1991, the Slovene terminus of the tunnel and its border post at Jesenice were briefly seized by an armored detachment of the Yugoslav People's Army during the Ten-Day War. The site witnessed brief but intense fighting, which included the ferrying of reinforcements to the Yugoslav troops by helicopter and culminated in an ineffectual airstrike by the Yugoslav air force. The border checkpoint building was heavily damaged in the crossfire.[citation needed]

Driving on Austrian as well as on Slovenian motorways requires a toll sticker. Additionally, a toll (currently 7.00 euros for vehicles up to 3.5 tons) is imposed on drivers for using the tunnel. Since Slovenia has joined the Schengen Area by the end of 2007, border controls have been abolished. Due to increasing traffic volume especially after the completion of the second tube of the Tauern Road Tunnel in June 2011, congestions crop up especially on weekends in the summer season and have led to the resumption of plans to build a second tube. The contract for it was signed in September 2015, but it will be completed in 2023 only.

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