Public works, official project launches and the countdown to general elections

It is only about 180 days until July when all roadworks and Olympic venues absolutely must be ready. The most crucial period is up until the elections, when Greeks, especially residents of Attica where most of the projects are under way, are likely to be seeing a barrage of official openings by government officials. Rio-Antirio bridge This is one of the most important projects and has assumed a semiological importance for the government and the prime minister personally. It is one of the projects which, after being on the drawing board for many years, is now nearing completion. The importance of the project has perhaps justified the increasing pressure on the construction consortium to have the job finished in time for the Olympic flame to be carried over the bridge – accompanied by government officials of course. The lighting of the flame is scheduled for March 25 and therefore at some point it will cross the bridge. As for which government officials will be accompanying it, that depends on the people, if elections are held beforehand. As for vehicle traffic – and the real opening of the bridge – drivers will have to be patient until the end of the year. Attiki Odos Everyone who has used the Attiki Odos to travel to the Peloponnese knows how useful this outer traffic ring is. The completion of the Stavros-Aghia Paraskevi intersection in March or April will complete the link between the Attiki Odos and the Hymettus ring road, making this route even more attractive. Of course, the completion of the Attiki Odos will be accompanied by a further rise in toll fees. Although expensive, the highway is the only real option for long-distance travelers. And if the most difficult part of the Athens-Corinth highway at Kakia Skala is completed, even in part, access to the Peloponnese will be much easier in future. Kifissos, Kifissias The continuation of the Athens-Lamia highway along Kifissos Avenue being built over the Kifissos River will be ready by the end of spring, doing away with the current logjam at the corner of Pireos Street and ending at the new flyover being constructed at Neo Faliron, channeling traffic toward Piraeus, Syngrou and Poseidonos avenues. The flyover at the «Pharos» in Psychico is the only project still pending in the abbreviated Olympic public works program, and is expected to be ready in March. A few days ago the flyover at Paradeisos, Maroussi, was opened to traffic. Still to come after the Olympics are the flyovers at Aghia Varvara and Halandri, doing away with a number of traffic lights along the avenue. Schedules for the remainder of the roadworks, less well known but still important for traffic movement in Attica, are running close to deadline. They include A. Papandreou Avenue in Piraeus, the road to the Markopoulos Equestrian Center and the Schinias Rowing Center. Those projects that are of more general importance and not just for Olympic use are the improvements to Marathonos Avenue, the Vari-Koropi road and the Stavros-Rafina road linking the Attiki Odos with the Pikermi-Spata road. Metro-tram-suburban rail The expansion of the metro network will be the most important project in the years to come. New lines are to be opened by the end of spring. The Alekos Panagoulis station at Aghios Dimitrios is to open at the end of February, extending Line 2 by 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) from its current terminus at Dafni. At the end of June the 6 kilometers from the current terminus of Line 3 at Ethniki Amyna to Halandri and Doukisis Plakentias will open and the kilometer from Sepolia to Aghios Antonios. In early summer the tram is to reappear in Athens after some 50 years, linking the center of town with Nea Smyrni and Faliron and from there to Glyfada in the east and the Peace and Friendship Stadium in the west. Televised trial runs have already been made, but the line is far from ready; pending problems include intersections with roads and right of way. Any potential benefits to city traffic movement are still unclear, with traffic jams occurring wherever tram lines are laid. Access to the airport will be improved by summer when the suburban rail opens.

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