Cheaper tolls, better country roads promised

Two of the demands being made by the ?I won?t pay? movement, which has led to one in 10 motorists refusing to pay at highway tolls, are likely to be met, according to government?s statements made on Tuesday.

The protesters have been demanding a reduction of tolls or removal of some tollbooths, especially on sections of national roads that are still under construction, and the improvement of country roads so that villagers can avoid using highways with tolls.

As part of its contract renewal negotiations with the seven consortia that are constructing and managing Greece?s highways, the government has asked that they reduce their toll charges. Deputy Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Magriotis revealed that the government has requested that this reduction should be greater on sections of national road that are still under construction, such as between Corinth and Patra.

In a completely new development, the ministry also announced plans to invest in the improvement of toll-free roads. The general secretary for co-financed projects, Sergios Lambropoulos, said that contracts worth a combined 200 million euros for 60 studies would be put out to tender soon and that this would pave the way or 250-million-euros worth of upgrade work on Greece?s country road network to begin by the end of this year.

Lambropoulos said that the state lacked proper records of all public roads, bridges and tunnels, which would help authorities arrange for their proper maintenance. He said that a government committee would also work with the seven consortia to create a single electronic toll system for all national roads, which would also be compatible with schemes used in other European countries.

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