Heart of Athens gets much-needed bypasses
In the hope that it will relieve congestion in two of Athens’s most important arteries, Mesogeion and Kifissias avenues, the Western Hymettus Peripheral Highway was opened on Wednesday, September 3. Out of a total length of 13.4 kilometers (8.3 miles), 12 kilometers have now been put into use, providing rapid access to the airport for residents of the southern suburbs and a fast road link to the southern part of the city from northeastern suburbs (to be joined by the northern ones with the completion of the final stretch). The road boasts 23 bridges and two additional bridges to serve pedestrians and firefighting vehicles, as well as a total tunnel length of 7.5 kilometers. Five intersections, on Katehaki Avenue, at Papagou, in Aghia Paraskevi (two) and at Glyka Nera currently provide access to the highway. High safety standards The Hymettus ring road, which is part of Attiki Odos, is an example of a modern highway built to high safety standards. Light meters at both ends of the tunnel regulate lighting. Cameras and sensors placed along the whole length of the road provide a continuous flow of information to the Traffic Management Center at Paeania. All along the road, there are instruments measuring carbon monoxide levels and visibility as well as telephones in case of breakdown. In the tunnels, ventilation systems are linked to fire systems, while electric cables and fuse boxes are made of fire-resistant materials. There are even pedestrian walkways through the longer tunnels in case of emergency. The road cost 85 billion drachmas (1994 prices), or nearly 250 million euros, a rise from the original 38 billion drachmas (111.5 million euros), which, according the Attiki Odos consortium, is due to the improvements imposed by the study of 1994, and the directions of the Council of State in 1999. The work took environmental considerations into account, with some stretches running through tunnels that were constructed with the cut-and-cover method (involving excavation, construction of the tunnel, and then covering it with earth). The covered parts were then planted. Daily journey times are expected to be slashed by 40-60 minutes, with corresponding savings on fuel. Thirty thousand vehicles are expected to use the road on a daily basis, paying 1.80 euros at the toll posts. Frequent road users will be able to use the e-pass system, which will allow them 30 trips a month at a cost of 30 euros. Regulars will be able to use cards, also costing 30 euros, which will allow them 20 journeys anywhere on the highway.