BUSINESS

Greece's cheapest highway will not be for much longer

VANGELIS MANDRAVELIS

TAGS: Transport

Egnatia Odos, the highway running from Greece’s northwest to northeast, cost more than any other national road project to develop yet remains the most affordable of the country’s highway stretches for motorists, according to data provided at a recent conference by Giorgos Dedes, general secretary for infrastructure.

Egnatia Odos cost 6 billion euros to construct (excluding VAT), while the rest of the country’s road network development costs total 7 billion euros, according to the official. These other projects include Ionia Odos, covering the mainland’s western flank and whose last section is being unveiled on Tuesday, as well as a section of European route E65, that will link Lamia, central Greece, with Egnatia Odos, by crossing the entire Thessaly region.

A total of eight toll stations currently operate along Egnatia Odos, a highway stretching 852 kilometers, for an average of roughly one toll station every 100 kilometers.

The frequency of toll gates on the country’s other highways is tenfold, averaging one station every 10 kilometers. Some 100 toll stations operate on these highways, totaling approximately 1,000 kilometers in length.

However, the lower-cost travel along Egnatia Odos is set to change. As part of the country’s privatization program, the leftist-led coalition government will need to introduce a further 38 toll stations along this highway.

This move is based on a plan that was established long before the SYRIZA party’s rise to power in 2015, in 2000, by Costas Laliotis, at the time the country’s environment, town planning and public works minister for the PASOK party.

Egnatia Odos operated without any toll station revenues for more than a decade, relying instead on taxpayers’ contributions. The highway’s first toll station was set up in 2010, at Polymylos in the Kozani area, before a further seven stations were added, including one in the Malgara area, which, despite being managed by Egnatia Odos, channels its takings into an old national highway construction fund.

Online