Brazilian toll road operator Invepar won the rights to upgrade and operate a stretch of a highway linking the capital Brasilia to the port of Rio de Janeiro in the country’s most fiercely contested road auction this year.

The highway auctioned is a 937-kilometer (582-mile) stretch of Brazil’s BR-040 highway between the federal district of Brasilia and Juiz de Fora on the border of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro states.

Invepar is expected to invest 7.4 billion reais ($3.2 billion) in BR-040 over the next 30 years.

Invepar, controlled by state-run pension funds Petros and Funcef, industrial conglomerate OAS and an investment fund run by state-controlled lender Banco do Brasil SA, won the auction by offering to charge 61 percent less than the maximum toll allowed by the government.

With the discount, the biggest of any highway auction this year, Invepar beat seven other groups angling for the fifth such concession of 2013. The increasingly crowded field has bolstered hopes for a government program to overhaul crumbling infrastructure that is gaining steam after early skepticism from investors.

The concession is part of a plan to upgrade 5,176 kilometers (3,216 miles) of mostly two-lane highways into four-lane divided highways within five years. The plan, which includes both public and private initiatives, aims to attract 27 billion reais ($11.4 billion) in investments over five years.

President Dilma Rousseff hopes to bolster a fragile economic recovery with new investment, construction jobs and logistical improvements by privatizing roads, railways, ports and airports.

Fifty percent of Invepar is held between Petros, the employee pension fund for state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, and Funcef, the pension fund of Caixa Economica Federal, a state-owned discount lender. (Reuters)