As roadworks are completed traffic congestion set to ease

As the Olympic Games draw near, preparations are entering the final phase. That includes completion of some roadworks, which should bring relief from traffic jams, but also make the city awkward for drivers to negotiate. Another section of the Attiki Odos opens for use in late January. Stretching from the Kimis interchange to Gerakas, it will join two parts of the road which are already in use (National Road-Kimis and Gerakas-airport), making a continuous 30-kilometer roadway. The trip from the Metamorphosis interchange, on the National Road toward Lamia, to the airport will take 20 minutes. The new section of the Attiki Odos includes some elements which will greatly ease traffic congestion: exit and entry interchanges on Pendelis Avenue, Kifissias Avenue (near OTE), Nerantziotissas Avenue (where there will be a light railway station) and Irakleiou Avenue. There will be a price to pay, however; when the new part of the Attiki Odos goes into operation, tolls are expected to rise by 80 cents to two euros. The Hymettus Western Peripheral Highway is scheduled to go into operation this summer, taking some traffic away from heavily congested Mesogeion Avenue. At the same time, a further section of the Attiki Odos (National Road to Ano Liossia) will go into use, and at the end of the year – three months ahead of the deadline – the whole Attiki Odos from Elefsina to the airport will be ready. Throughout 2003 a number of Olympic projects will be under way in various parts of Athens: two interchanges on Kifissias Avenue (Pharos in Psychico, Paradeisos in Maroussi), the tramway along the seafront, pedestrian zoning, the unification of archaeological sites in Athens, refurbishment of the Faliron Delta, and the Kifissou and Alimou interchanges on Poseidonos Avenue. The last-mentioned have caused serious seafront traffic congestion since they began, and were postponed briefly to help drivers during the holiday period, but will start again on January 7 and continue till late May. The campaign to boost public transport use will also continue this year. A new Metro station at Monastiraki will be ready in March, and the Transport Ministry plans to increase the number of bus lanes by the time of the Olympic Games. The latest bus lane to gain approval is on Alexandras Avenue. Five kilometers long in both directions, it will be signposted and protected. Bus lanes are also planned for Harilaou Trikoupi and Ippocratous streets in downtown Athens. ISAP’s electric railway stations are undergoing improvements The ISAP electric railway is introducing a new look to public transportation with the sprucing up of its stations, due for completion in early 2004. Work on the stations of Piraeus and Aghios Eletherios is complete, while work on Omonia, Nea Ionia, Moschato, Petralona, Pefkakia, Kallithea and Aghios Nikolaos is still under way. Tenders have been called for refurbishment of another 11 stations (Maroussi, Neo Iraklion, Eirini, Neo Faliron, Thiseion, Kato Patissia, Ano Patissia, Perissos, Nerantziotissas, Tavros and Attikis). Bids are being prepared for the remaining stations (Kifissia, KAT, Victoria and Monastiraki).

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