Road collapse sparks debate

Civil engineers yesterday criticized the government’s explanation of the collapse, over the past few days, of parts of two major highways in the Peloponnese due to ground subsidence and landslides. Full repairs to sections of the national roads from Corinth to Tripolis and Megalopolis to Kalamata are expected to take years. Until then, motorists will have to follow lengthy deviations along narrow, winding, poorly maintained country roads. The road from Megalopolis to Kalamata will have to be redrawn from scratch at the point where it collapsed last week, between Paradeisia and Tsakona south of Megalopolis, while Public Works Ministry experts are still trying to ascertain whether the Corinth-to-Tripolis highway – which collapsed near Nemea over the weekend – will have the same fate. On Monday, Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said poor geological and soil studies had been carried out when the roads were being built. She also claimed a 1998 study commissioned after the Corinth-to-Tripolis road showed signs of instability – but never implemented – would have made things worse. «No expert could have decided, as Mrs Papandreou asserted, that had the study been implemented the situation would have become worse,» Dimitris Papayiannidis, secretary-general of Greece’s Association of Civil Engineers, told Kathimerini yesterday. «And if they had, then whoever approved the study should be punished.» He also claimed the initial study for the Megalopolis road had envisaged bridges between Paradeisia and Tsakona, to address ground instability. «The question is, who modified that study and why?» Opposition New Democracy’s shadow public works minister, Savvas Tsitouridis, yesterday said the damage to the roads will set parts of the Peloponnese 30 years back.