NEWS

Grand plans for Faliron Bay are not scheduled to come to fruition till after the Olympic Games

The transformation of Athens’s coastline at Faliron Bay, where many Olympic venues are under construction, is expected to continue after the Olympics are over to upgrade the entire coastal strip from what for decades has been virtually a wasteland. The Olympic venues are nearing completion but the projects that will really change the look of the shoreline are not scheduled until after the Games. Not yet assigned, these projects will, when completed, solve important problems in the area such as flooding in the nearby suburbs of Kallithea and Moschato and the completion of the stormwater drainage system for the area. «If the post-Olympic phase is postponed to the distant future, then the infrastructure problems that have been plaguing the area and the city generally to a dangerous degree will be perpetuated. The opportunity provided by the Olympics will have been lost,» said architect Ivi Nanopoulou, a member of the Papayiannis firm’s research group that has designed the project for the area. These days, anyone turning right from Syngrou Avenue toward Piraeus sees on the left-hand side a huge construction site that is responsible for the detours causing delays and traffic jams. Projects designed to improve the area are scheduled for the post-Olympic period, either because of a lack of time or because they do not serve the needs of the Games. The main purpose of these later projects is to restore continuity between the city and the sea and to create an open, green space for recreation and sport as well as solve the flooding problems. Perhaps the most impressive and more urgent of these changes is the shifting of Poseidonos Avenue southward (toward the sea), and replacing its current route with a canal to absorb the floodwaters from the surrounding area, the coastal Moschato-Kallithea stormwater collection area. This and a number of other projects such as the completion of anti-flooding works, will protect Moschato, Kallithea, Rendi, Neo Faliron and Votanikos as well as central parts of the city. According to Nanopoulou, the canal will be sited along the line of the old sea coast (before land reclamation was carried out some decades ago), re-establishing the city’s former natural limits. So Poseidonos Avenue will be moved further away from the city and be hidden between two green banks. Two flyovers will be built for vehicles and pedestrian traffic across the new avenue, as extensions of Chrysostomou Smyrnis and Lambrou Katsonis streets, completing a network of pedestrian zones forming a coastal walkway linking Flisvos in Palaio Faliron with Piraeus. The area between the Ilissos and Kifissos estuaries is to be left until after 2004, when a big park with large artificial lakes, where swimming will be permitted, and a sports field, following demands by local residents, will be built. Vegetation is planned for the left and right of Poseidonos Avenue along this stretch, where there will be parking areas during the Games, to balance the Kifissos delta which is rapidly being transformed into a major traffic intersection and flyover. Greenery will also be planted around the area that will serve as a beach volleyball center during the Games. After the Games, all of the sporting venues will be adapted for other uses, such as the handball center, which is to be used as a multipurpose gymnasium.