A general view showing motorists driving on the Jounieh highway, Friday, Oct. 31, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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A stalled project to expand Jounieh's crumbling and congested highway took steps toward implementation recently when a series of government land acquisitions were launched, after President Michel Aoun reportedly pushed for progress on the matter. A tender for the project, which aims to expand the 10.2-kilometer stretch of highway between Nahr al-Kalb and Tabarja in Kesrouan by one lane, making it three, in addition to adding a service lane, is set to be launched in a few days, Presidential Engineering Adviser Antoine Souaid told The Daily Star Tuesday. The project itself was funded by a loan from the European Investment Bank to the tune of 75 Million euros ($87,3 million). However, Souaid said the anticipated duration had been lowered to two and a half years after Aoun asked the Council for Development and Reconstruction to enforce "24/7 construction" on the highway.Elias Beaino, the mayor of Zouk Mikael, a town near the beginning of the Jounieh highway, said that the project had first been proposed in 1994 and that its implementation now was a "catastrophe".Beaino said that, at the time the project was suggested, 90,000 cars traveled through the Nahr al-Kalb tunnel each day.
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