NEWS

Drivers’ woes added to by new works as old ones near end

Athenians will spend the greater part of 2003 exactly as they did in 2002 – on the road. There will be joy for some of the capital’s denizens as some major road projects are turned over to drivers, and problems for others, as Olympics-related works this year obey the Biblical injunction to «be fruitful and multiply» and «have dominion.» Road projects such as the Attiki Odos and the Western Hymettus Peripheral Highway will be completed this year, thus relieving major routes of traffic, but numerous other traffic hot spots scattered throughout Athens are expected to subject car owners to severe ordeals for yet another year. Good tidings for traffic-clogged city The year 2003 will see the completion of the Attiki Odos highway that will join Elefsina with Athens International Airport. The most optimistic news of the incoming year is that the new highway will reroute traffic from large avenues, such as Kifissias and Mesogeion, and considerably shorten journey time to and from the airport and to intermediate destinations. The Attiki Odos will be ready at the end of 2003 – three months ahead of schedule – while large stretches will be opened for public use in stages, relieving the stress and strain of driving on the city’s congested roads. At the end of January, the stretch between the intersection at Kymis Avenue and Gerakas will be ready, thus providing the link between two unconnected stretches that have already been completed (from the Metamorphosis-National Road interchange to Kymis Avenue and from Gerakas to the airport). Drivers will thus be able to drive from the National Road to the airport in about 20 minutes. The new stretch will have interchanges with Pendelis and Kifissias avenues, and exits to Nerantziotissa and Neo Iraklion. Another stretch, from the Metamorphosis interchange to Ano Liosia, will be ready after the summer. However, toll fees on the Attiki Odos at the end of January will rise, reaching 2 euros. The Western Hymettus Peripheral Highway is expected to be ready after the summer. Like the Attiki Odos, it is regarded as a major road project, constituting part of the ring road around the capital that will serve drivers who up to now were obliged to pass through the city center in order to reach their final destination. The Western Peripheral Highway is expected to relieve the hugely congested Mesogeion Avenue linking the center to eastern Attica. Congestion rules as roadworks continue Traffic jams will be plentiful this year as well because of Olympics-related works, with the top eight driving ordeals for this year being: 1. Kifissias Avenue. The construction of the Pharos and Paradeisos interchanges will continue for the rest of the year, restricting traffic flow at points along Kifissias Avenue. They will be finished by the end of 2004. 2. Poseidonos Avenue. Works – those on Faliron Bay at the Faliron delta, the construction of two interchanges at Kifissou and Alimou avenues, and the tramway – will start this year on the city’s coastal road. Work on the Alimou interchange began yesterday and will last until May 2003, while the Faliron Bay project will affect drivers until April. 3. Marathonos Avenue. Road-widening works from Attiki Odos to Marathon and those at Pallini will leave one lane in each direction. 4. Mesogeion Avenue. Already on Mesogeion Avenue – where the average speed during rush hour is 4 km/hour – traffic is being diverted for Metro works. Doukissis Plakentias Avenue, site of the future Halandri station, will be entirely shut to traffic in places. 5. Varis-Koropiou Avenue. A single lane will operate in each direction, due to road-widening works to be completed by early 2004. 6. Kaningos Square. Work on the central square’s underground car park is expected to last until October 2003. Academias Street has been closed from Halkondyli Street to George Street and vehicles have to use a diversion. 7. Kymis and Spyrou Louis. The interchange and link between Kymis and Nerantziotissis is under construction. 8. Kifissou Avenue. The last four lanes of Kifissou narrow to two for the last 3 kilometers. Further major works will worsen matters.