Construction bedevils the Vari-Koropi road

An expensive and potentially very useful project for southeastern Attica is at risk as a result of a lack of coordination between state services, faulty permits from local zoning offices, the personal considerations of property owners and above all the State’s excessive haste to widen the Vari-Koropi road before the Olympics. The new road, which has cost the Greek State 49.5 million euros just to design, is beset with a number of problems, since buildings have literally sprung up right on the edge of the road, or at best, just a few meters from the gutter, particularly around the Hellenic Army Camp. As soon as some property owners heard that the old road was to be widened, they rushed to apply for building permits which were issued before the official announcement of the widening of the road. Buildings that are now almost sitting on the road itself began to be built before the roadworks began. This coincided with an expansion of the town-planning limits, allowing an increase in the number of buildings alongside the road. Expropriation of properties alongside the road in order to widen it were completed in 1999, when most of the building permits had been issued but work had not yet begun. When roadworks began in the summer of 2001, Public Works Ministry engineers realized that some buildings were very close to the verge. It is only with great difficulty that the minimum 1.5-meter width for sidewalks has been achieved. According to transport experts, the minimum safety limit is 5 meters between buildings and road surface, given an average vehicle speed of 70 kilometers per hour. The Public Works Ministry, which is responsible for the project, could demand the demolition of these buildings since it is clear there is not enough space for pedestrians to go safely in and out of the buildings, or for water and power supplies to be maintained. «Supplementary expropriation of property could by no means be carried out because it would have meant major delays in the work and higher construction costs,» was the ministry’s explanation as to why this had not been done. These buildings, however, require a permit from the prefecture for access to and from the road. The experts say this should not be given since it would reduce the speed of traffic flow. An extremely expensive project, crucial for traffic connections between southeastern Attica and the international airport, with a high standard of technical specifications, is being spoiled by a shamefully slapdash approach that will always be a problem for the people using it in future.