TASHKENT (TCA) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on September 1 approved a $274.2 million loan to reconstruct 240 kilometers of highway in the western part of Uzbekistan and improve safety at key sections of the country’s national road network to expand regional trade and road transport connectivity.“As a double-landlocked country, Uzbekistan has made regional connectivity the centerpiece of its transport policy,” said ADB Senior Transport Specialist Pawan Karki. “This project will help to develop the country’s potential as a regional transport and logistics hub between Europe and South and East Asia, promoting economic growth.”As part of the project, a 240-km section of the Guzar–Bukhara–Nukus–Beyneu highway in Karakalpakstan will be reconstructed as a two-lane, cement concrete road including access roads to link villages to the highway. The road is one of the region’s key trade routes and part of Corridor 2 of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program.The road will incorporate climate resilient features suited to the arid climate of Karakalpakstan, where temperatures are expected to rise by almost 5ºC by the end of the century. The project will also construct five rest stops with separate sanitary facilities for women and market stalls, 50% of which will be allocated for women entrepreneurs.To improve road safety and traffic efficiency, the project will help the Ministry of Transport install an intelligent transport system along a 100-km pilot section of the Tashkent–Namangan road, which has among the heaviest traffic in Uzbekistan. The system will monitor traffic and road conditions in real time, feeding information and warnings to display boards and websites.Two fully automated weigh-in-motion facilities will be installed at select points of the national road network to avoid overloading of vehicles on the highway network and prevent accelerated pavement deterioration.ADB has invested $1.3 billion in road and rail transport infrastructure in Uzbekistan, whose road network is vital to regional connectivity.The CAREC Program is a partnership of 11 countries—Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—to promote economic growth and development through regional cooperation, and supported by development partners. ADB hosts the CAREC Secretariat in its headquarters in Manila.