Case Studies: H5 Koper-Izola Motorway, Slovenia

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Project Overview
Figure 1: Koper -Izolay, Slovenia
H5 Koper Lucija Motorway, Slovenia
Project Type: Both
Type of Project Financing: Public
Contract duration: 7 years
Budget: 164 MEUR
Project Time Line
2002: Pre-investment study
2005: Feasibility study
2008: Construction started
2005: Completion of construction
Other important dates for the project: Bankruptcy of the main contractor for the tunnel construction (2012)


Slovenia has 46,6km of coastline, which constitutes an important part of the tourist offer. The relatively short coastline is unsuitable for tourist use, because of the state road running just off the coast . The project presented entails the modification of the state road in the interior, in order to relieve traffic along the coast. In the final phase of project, part of the coast of approximately 7km length, will no longer be used as a road, thus, opening up new possibilities for tourism development.

The existing national road from Koper to Izola named H5 functioned as a short regional road with mainly domestic traffic between two major Slovenian coastal towns. During the summer time, the road was extremely burdened with tourism traffic. The road alignment did not permit normal driving conditions, without environmental problems and congestion. The road is still open to local traffic for daily commuters, but is no longer used by international traffic. The local community is planning to close the road and use the coastal strip for tourism purposes.


Figure 2: Subject of investment

With the implementation of the National Motorway Construction Program in the Republic of Slovenia, the motorway section Koper – Izola gained a special position in the country because of the specific region in which it lies. The pre investment study for the construction of the Koper–Izola section (including the Markovec tunnel) was based on cross section width and a possible phased construction. The results of the study proved that the construction of the motorway cross section was to be the most favorable. It was considered also in the feasibility study.

The technical description, cost evaluation and financial analysis were carried out for the motorway sections and other services presented in Table 1.

Table 1 - Investment costs (fixed price of October 2013 in mio EUR)

Section 1- main four lane road 45,71 40,83
Section 1 – main road (after bankruptcy) 1,70
Section 1 – main road (after bankruptcy) 3,28
Section 2 overpasses, bridging facilities 12,25 11,85
Section 2 overpasses, bridging facilities(after bankruptcy) 0,25
Tunnel – construction work 66,19 53,15
Tunnel – construction work (after bankruptcy) 1,94
Tunnel – electro-mechanical works 14,64 15,41
Accessto local road - connection 1,74 1,74
Extra costs 3,30 3,40
Planning 5,90 6,00
Land 15,80 15,80
Engineer 8,47 8,80
TOTAL 174,00 164,15

Economic evaluation

Costs and benefits were analysed for a 20 year period, according to different scenarios of traffic volume using the net present value criterion. Results showed that the construction of the section Koper –Izola was financially feasible.

General information

The expressway Koper - Izola is part of the future expressway H 5 Koper - Lucija, which will take over traffic from the current main road Koper –Sečovlje (border with Croatia). The section is 5.20 km long and starts at the existing four-lane coastal road before connecting to Semedela (Koper), and ends with a connection to the existing four-lane coastal road in Izola. Over the Semedela channel by the bridge, it runs from the current four-lane coastal road. From the channel, the route begins a slight climb and moves to the twin-tube tunnel Markovec of 2.1 km length. After exiting the tunnel at the Izola side, the alignment continues on the outskirts of the valley Pivol to the current two-lane coastal road.

Technical elements for road

The basic length of the expressway route is 5.060 m, the largest longitudinal drop is 2.8%, the minimum horizontal radius is 450 m, the smallest convex radius 12,000 m, while the smallest concave radius is 8,000 m.

The characteristics of a normal cross-profile expressway is 20,40 m and consists of four lanes of 3.50 m, four boundary belts of 0.35m width and two verges of 1.50 m width (with the central reserve width of 2.00 m).

The design speed on expressways is 100 km / h.

Technical elements for Markovec tunnel

The highway in the twin-tube two-lane tunnel runs from the cliff slopes of Markovec on the Koper side to the end of the valley stream Pivol on the Izola side. The length of the right tunnel tube (direction Koper - Izola) is 2.144 m, while the length of the left tube (direction Izola - Koper) is 2.174 m. The transverse drop is from 2.5% to 3.5%. Lanes are 3.50 m wide, edge bands are 0.35 m. The total width is 7.70 m.

Several types of niches have been built (electrical niche, cleaning niche, fire water niche, etc) for the safety of the tunnel.

Table 2-Traffic data

Year Number of vehicles
2003 25.463
2024 (forecast) 44.128

The Contracting Authority (Public Party)

The contracting authority is DARS, the Motorway Company in the Republic of Slovenia, a joint-stock company (100% owned by the state). By 1994, the Republic of Slovenia transferred the management of all existing motorways, as well as relevant infrastructure to DARS d.d. Thus, DARS d.d. has assumed the right to collect motorway tolls as a source of income necessary for the management and maintenance of Slovenia's motorway network, as well as an important source for building new ones.

Sources of Financing

The financing of motorway infrastructure projects are realized through the public budget of the Republic of Slovenia (public projects) with a credit guaranteed by the state. All the main plans were approved by the parliament. The construction is usually funded through three key sources:

  • Public budget,
  • European fund,
  • European Investment bank (loan).

Operation and maintenance is financed by direct tax sources (fuel tax) and user fees (tolls and vignette). The Izola-Koper project was funded only by public budget. There was no EU contribution.


The users of the motorway are private and business motorists. Very important users of the Koper-Izola motorway are also tourists (mainly from Italy and Germany).

Key Purpose for Public Financing Model Selection

Motorway infrastructure projects are realized through the public budget of the Republic of Slovenia (public projects) with a credit guaranteed by the state. All the main plans were approved by the parliament. The construction is usually funded through three key sources:

  • Public budget,
  • European fund,
  • European Investment bank (loan).

Project Timing

Unfortunately, the project started late in 2007 and finished in 2015. The main reasons for the delay are:

  • Complaints on public procurement,
  • Bankruptcy of the two main contractors,
  • New tenders for completion of works.

The scope of the project was to relieve the coastal zone allowing for the development of tourism.

Project Locality and Market Geography

Koper with its port is the deepest sea access in the European continent from the south. On the other side, the region is directly involved in the connection with neighbouring Italy, especially Trieste and Friuli. The Koper region (including the port of Koper) is on the TEN-T route Barcelona – Kijev.

Procurement & Contractual Structure

There were open public tenders for all phases of the project (design, build). The Motorway Company of Slovenia funded all project phases. First the company (DARS) got a design and building permit, after which tenders for construction were established.There were 10 contracts for construction (because of bankruptcy). After construction, DARS is responsible for operation and maintenance.

Risk Allocation

All the risks were and are on the public side apart for the construction risk which was partially passed on to the private contractor for construction.


Figure 3: Risk allocation


The indicators, which were used for the evaluation of different stages of the project were time schedule, project cost, quality checking and monitoring of the environment. Reliability was measured by ex-ante (forecasted) and ex-post (observed) share of delayed traffic. Availability was measured by ex-ante and ex post days/year open to traffic. Maintainability was measured by ex-ante and ex-post maintenance costs. Safety was measured by ex-ante and ex-post total accidents and fatalities per 1000 vehicle-km per year. Cost of investment was almost 5% lower than expected, due to the better than expected geo-mechanical conditions found in tunnel. All measurements after the opening cannot be provided yet, since the road was opened in June 2015.

Project Outcomes

The project is generally successful.

Traffic goals and wider socioeconomic outcomes cannot be assessed yet as the motorway was only recently opened to traffic.


The initial version of this wiki page has been produced within the framework of the BENEFIT project that has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 635973.