NEWS

Athens to get extensive repair job

With the aim of improving the functioning of roads in Athens’s city center and municipal divisions, as well as creating a more accessible and user-friendly road network for Athenians and tourists alike, the capital’s municipal authorities have launched a major program of resurfacing roads and sidewalks, which is to cover all seven of Athens’s municipal divisions. According to plans, which have already been drawn up by the municipality’s competent technical services, a total of 240 roads (covering 70 kilometers, or 43.5 miles) are to have been resurfaced by October. Also, 37 steep roads will be covered with a special anti-skid surface. Works on roads in Athens’s First and Seventh divisions got under way a few days ago and works units are to be set up in the remaining divisions very soon. According to the plans, most works are expected to be completed during August, when many Athenians are away on vacation, and so the works will inconvenience fewer residents and commuters. As stressed by the competent municipal officials, there will be a second phase to the road-resurfacing program, which is due to be completed before the launch of next year’s Olympic Games. In total, there are plans for signing 69 resurfacing contracts, while municipal authorities – after consultation with the Public Works Ministry – have also undertaken to resurface certain central arterial roads (which fall under the ministry’s remit). As well as the road-resurfacing work, municipal authorities are also planning to reconstruct 65 percent of the capital’s sidewalks. The total cost of these projects is estimated at 70 million euros. Meanwhile, the cost of repairs to potholes – which are also currently under way – is expected to reach 600,000 euros. While the above works aim to improve the operation of roads in Athens, municipal authorities are also launching a pilot project for the «aesthetic regeneration» of certain roads. This is a program combining urban regeneration with other projects which are already being planned by teams of architects, engineers, environmentalists and other experts. The plans will involve changes to sidewalks, street lighting and signs, and will include greenery as well as the creation of new parking spaces, and the distribution of waste disposal bins, bus stops, benches and ramps offering access for the disabled. This pilot program is to be implemented on the following streets: Anapafseos, Eftychidou-Chromenidou, Omirou, Lykavittou, Vassiliou tou Megalou, Stournari, Kerameon, Gyzi, Philadelfeias, Tripoleos and Aghias Zonis. The studies are expected to be completed promptly, so that they can be implemented in the fall and completed by the launch of the Olympics next year. Works are to continue on other roads after the Games. The total budget for the pilot program is 3.5 million euros. As was noted by Athens’s deputy mayor for technical projects, Chronis Akritides, particular emphasis will be laid on retaining the unique aesthetics of individual streets, according to the particular neighborhoods in which they are located. Akritides added that before the works begin, officials will hold talks with residents to obtain their approval for the changes. Meanwhile, works on refurbishing the facades of buildings in Athens are under way around Plastira, Koliatsou and Mavili squares. Part of a drive for the aesthetic upgrading of the capital also involves the removal of promotional billboards from the facades and roofs of apartment blocks, the «greenification» of Athens with a scheduled planting of 10,000 trees, and the refurbishment of existing children’s playgrounds, as well as the creation of 17 new ones, by the end of this year.