Roads will take years to mend

As Supreme Court prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis yesterday ordered an investigation into what caused the weekend collapse of a section of the main highway spanning the Peloponnese from north to south, the government yesterday admitted that repairs could take years. Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said ministry experts would know in 10 days whether the broken section of the 11-year-old National Road from Corinth to Tripolis could be somehow patched up – possibly by raising it on stilts above the loose ground on which it was built – or would have to be rerouted at the point where it collapsed, near Nemea in the northeastern Peloponnese. Ground subsidy triggered by days of heavy rain caused a 200-meter stretch of tarmac to sink on Saturday, forcing authorities to close off the highway and reroute motorists along a smaller road built in 1998, when the National Road first showed signs of instability. Landslides on Sunday caused another 700 meters to crumble. According to Papandreou, traffic might have to use this deviation for the next two or three years. She attributed the damage to poor geological and soil studies conducted in the area when the road was being built. «At that time, we did not have the money to carry out proper studies,» she explained. But opposition New Democracy accused the government of negligence, noting that the first indications of ground instability had appeared in 1998. Meanwhile, the three-year-old National Road from Megalopolis to Kalamata is in even worse shape, following landslides and subsidence last week that destroyed 500 meters of tarmac. Papandreou said some 10 kilometers (6 miles) of the road would need to be redrawn, a process which will take several years.