ECONOMY

Major highway projects get green light from EC

European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn has given the green light for the release of 2.97 billion euros’ worth of European Union funding for the construction of four major highway projects in Greece, the Commission reported on Monday.

Hailed as “among the most important infrastructure projects in Greece,” the four projects are expected to generate some 6,000 jobs during their construction and boost economic growth in the cash-strapped nation.

The highways are slated for delivery at the end of 2015 and to employ around 1,700 people in their management.

The funding concerns four construction projects that were stopped as a result of the economic crisis.

“These projects and their abrupt interruption were visible casualties of the crisis in Greece,” Hahn said on Monday. “Their resumption and the fact that the European Commission and several European companies are again prepared to invest in them, is a sign of growing confidence in Greece’s recovery.”

The projects relate to the completion of construction on the Ionian highway along the 196 km section between Antirrio and Ioannina in western Greece, along with works to upgrade existing sections of the PATHE motorway (the Patra-Athens-Thessaloniki, which is part of the Trans European Transport Network). The highway will pass through four Greek regions: Epirus, Western Greece, Mainland Greece and Attica. The European Regional Development Fund will finance 723.6 million euros. The reduction in road accidents is expected to be above 37 percent.

The completion of the Maliakos-Kleidi concession passing through the regions of Thessaly and Central Macedonia, relates to the construction of the Evangelismos–Skotina (24.71 km) stretch, along with works to upgrade existing sections (204.70 km) of the PATHE motorway. The Cohesion Fund will finance 699 million euros. The reduction in road accidents is expected to be more than 30 percent.

The completion of the Elefsina–Corinth– Patra highway concession refers to the construction of the Corinth–Patra (120 km) section, including the upgrade of existing sections (81.5 km) of the PATHE highway. The highway will pass through the regions of Western Greece, the Peloponnese and Attica. The European Regional Development Fund will finance 977 million euros. The reduction in road accidents is expected to be more than 38 percent.

The completion of the Central Greece highway concession for the E-65 motorway relates to the construction of the 78.5 km long section between Xyniada and Trikala and the installation of toll stations and a communication system on the Skarfeia–Raches stretch (57 km) of the PATHE highway. The highway runs through Thessaly and Mainland Greece. The Cohesion Fund will finance 570 million euros. The reduction in road accidents is expected to be more than 30 percent.

“The Trans European Network for Transport of which these motorways are a part is essential for connecting the continent and for the smooth functioning of Europe’s single market,” Hahn said. “These projects will improve the competitiveness of the regions they pass through, making them more attractive to investors. But as well as creating the right conditions for growth and jobs, they also improve the quality of life for citizens. These motorways will be far safer than the current roads they replace.”