ECONOMY

Consortium pushes for road works

The consortium which built and now operates Attiki Odos, the highway circling northern Athens and linking the city to the airport, is pressing to get more projects in Attica without going through competitive bids. The consortium, led by construction firm Aktor, has proposed to Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias to sign contracts for the extension of the Hymettus Peripheral Highway, through a tunnel, to Poseidonos Avenue, the road linking Athens’s seaside suburbs, and the completion of Kimis Avenue, in northern Athens. Both projects concern feeder roads to Attiki Odos, whose completion would considerably improve traffic flow. In return, the consortium offers only a slight increase in tolls – from 2.50 euros currently, for automobiles, to 2.60 euros, but also wants an extension of its concession to operate the highway before it transfers it to the state. The consortium revealed its intentions during the presentation of a survey on the use of Attiki Odos. According to the survey, conducted in November and December 2004, an average of 230,000 vehicles use the highway daily, 50,000 more than original planning estimates. Between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. traffic exceeds the (theoretical) saturation point. Among the users, 32.14 percent make use of toll discount schemes offered to regular users, while a total of 94,430 vehicles have been fitted with the e-pass devices. Two thirds of Attiki Odos users use it to go to and from work. About half of the respondents believe they save between 16 and 30 minutes compared to alternative routes, while another 35 percent believe they save up to an hour.