Construction of Colombia’s US$262M La Linea road tunnel has received a major boost after the Andean Development Fund said it could finance 40 per cent of the cost of the scheme.

Fund officials said about US$100M could be provided as part of a new funding package for road and highway maintenance.

Contracting and investment joint ventures are gearing up to bid for the contract to build and operate the 8.6km long tunnel that will help improve communications between Buenaventura in Colombia and Caracas in Venezuela.

Concession documents are currently on sale and will be available until August.

Tunnel construction is due to start next year and take 60 months and the project includes 3.8km of access roads and a parallel emergency tunnel.

Under the terms of the concession, the successful bidder will have to provide a financing package as part of its bid but the Colombian government will assume responsibility for this financing agreement once the franchise is signed.

Deutsche Bank, together with Swiss banks, has offered to fund 100 per cent of the project.

The winning consortium will also be given a seven year franchise to operate and maintain the tunnel.