The construction of about 44 kilometres (27 miles) of additional motorway could start as early as next year, connecting the city of Zalaegerszeg to the national highway system, Minister of Construction and Investment János Lázár stated at a press event on Sunday, 17 December in Fenékpuszta, Hungary near Lake Balaton.
The minister spoke about restarting the project, which was originally conceived in 2020 but halted by the post-COVID general government investment stop, It would convert Route M76, currently connecting Zalaegerszeg to the M7 Motorway, into a new four-lane motorway section. He went on to explain that
this would be the most expensive motorway construction project in Hungary’s history, costing around 400 billion HUF ($1.14 billion) to finish.
The length of the proposed new highway section puts its per-kilometre building cost at 9.2 billion HUF per kilometre, which is also a record high. In fact, it is more than double the previous most expensive project; the M6 Motorway cost 4.5 billion HUF per kilometre to build. The complex terrain the expanded M7 section would run through is behind the high cost—a total of 36 bridges also need to be built to cover the distance by motorway.
Additionally, as the Hungarian business site Világgazdaság reports, a 10-kilometre (8 miles) test section to test high-speed vehicles will also be included in the newly constructed section
Zalaegerszeg is the capital of Zala County, and has a population of 55,000 people. Currently, it takes around two and a half hours to drive there by car from the national capital, Budapest. The new motorway section would cut down on that travel time significantly. According to a statement from the Ministry of Construction and Investment sent to Világgazdaság,
the current administration’s aim is to connect every city with county rights in the country into a 2X2-lane motorway system.