Tusheti was connected to Kakheti by three shortest roads, which cross the Caucasus ridges and are impassable during the winter. One road started from village Omalo, climbed its way to the Didgverdi mountain (2987m) and descended to the community of Gometsri through the Glacier Pass. The second road to the village started from village Pshaveli, followed the Stori gorge, climbed to Bulanchoswveri mountain (3255m) and passed through the bath pass into the community of Chaghma. The third road is at the head of the Pankisi gorge from the headstream of Alazani and Batsara rivers on Tbatana Mountain (2456m), crossed Laghismta (2597m) and descended through the Sakorn pass to the Tsovati community. All these ways were referred to as "sheep roads" that connected Tusheti to the fields of Alvani and Shirak, which was of great importance for the development of sheep breeding.
Today, the only road to Tusheti, the Omalo-Alvani road, is one of the most difficult ones in Georgia, following a narrow, dirt road (the “sheep road”) along the river, as it passes through the Stori gorge and climbs the Caucasus. Located at an altitude of 2926 m, this area is known as Abano and is the highest motor crossing in the Caucasus. This 72-kilometer stretch is only accessible by two-wheeled, off-road transport and takes about 4-5 hours. The road is especially difficult in the landslide prone Zoben, 50th and 53rd kilometers. In 2013, BBC included this road in the list of the most extreme roads in Europe.
The Abano Pass only operates for a few months during the year (from late May to October) and even during this time it is constantly cleared of landslides and rock debris. Due to the heavy snowfall, the road is closed for 6 months and it is possible to get to Tusheti only by helicopter. Prior to the opening of the road in 2017, free flights to Omalo were scheduled once a week by the Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to allow border guards and permanent dwellers there to feel connected to the rest of Georgia.
The complexity of the road hinders the economic development of the region and is an important obstacle for tourism - one of the main generators of Tusheti development.
The country has been facing this problem for many years. Back in 1935, Giorgi Bochoridze discussed the road connecting Kakheti and Tusheti in his work and talked about its pros and cons. Th researcher offered then government an alternative route in the same paper. The new road has many drawbacks: it is narrow (except for a small part); It has the "chirkvana" of the original roads, i.e., the twists and turns. Examples are the ascent of the Abano, the ascent of the cliffs beyond Abano, and so on.
Furthermore, the road is paved only on the right side of the gorge. The second, the left side, is completely neglected. Some places on the side of the road are very wet and watery. The land can be broken for hours and push everything into the abyss, which can be prevented by developing the other sides as well.
With the bridge, all this would take 3-4 hours, the bridge piers are not needed because natural rocks are excellent bridge places and more. Finally, why did they set out on this valley and not on another? This was ostensibly justified by the fact that on this road you can travel from spring to late autumn. But there is one positive side and there are many negatives.
The valley of Abano is very ruined and watery, and in some places, it is rocky and impassable. Great ascents do not cross it in any way, and this is a great obstacle for Sharagzi. For all these reasons and shortcomings, could not the road have crossed this gorge and been taken to another place? For example, there is a ridge that flows continuously from Kakheti to the middle of Tusheti. The ridge of the Black Cliff Mountain and the ridge of Vadaeti in Esar. It starts in the village of Pshaveli and ascends to the to the head of village Kumelaurti. The road from Kakheti will gradually rise unnoticed up to the mountain, then hang in a straight line on the mentioned ridge and finally descend to Tusheti.
It is true that this ridge has large ruined, and smooth sides, but it can be seen and if it succeeds, it will stay on the path forever; It will be firm and dense as well. The road to Abano Gorge will lose its need to be repaired every year, it will not need the tenth of current reparations and most importantly, it will be very easy to get access.
References: Spatial-territorial arrangement plan of Akhmeta municipality and Tusheti, Studio 21.