Toll rates to depend on projects? progress

By Giorgos Lialios

The government?s new toll rate policy for four highways whose construction has run into trouble is based on the offering of generous reductions in sections under construction and implementing gradual hikes for completed parts.

The state will undertake to cover the cost of the reductions. However, it is not clear yet whether it will also cover the difference between the toll hikes to be implemented and the rates provided by the concession contracts.

Negotiations between contractors and the state are in their final stage and should lead to some announcements being made this week. At the moment, Aegean Highway, covering the middle stretch of the Athens-Thessaloniki national road, and Nea Odos, covering the southern part of the same highway, seem to be safe. Negotiations to keep alive the construction of Olympia Odos, from Athens to the Peloponnese, and Kentriki Odos, running from Lamia to Metsovo in central Greece, are at a crucial point.

The new toll policy has three pillars: Cutting rates in sections under construction as drivers are not getting the full services for which they are paying. This would apply to the section from Corinth to Patra and from Evangelismos to Skotina along the Athens-Thessaloniki national road. Furtheremore, there is likely to be a gradual increase of rates at completed sections, and the drafting of a discount policy by contractors for regular highway users, partly to curb resistance by local residents.