Motorists’ Olympic tribulations

Motorists in the capital are to get a full foretaste of the hellish traffic conditions expected during the August Olympics more than three weeks before the Games open, police warned yesterday. From July 20, a series of crippling restrictions will come into effect on the main roads of Athens, whose permanent congestion only eases during August when most residents usually leave on holiday. Under the measures announced yesterday, effectively all the city’s crucial thoroughfares will be given over to Olympics-related traffic – some 4,550 vehicles carrying athletes, officials and assorted VIPs as well as ambulances, police and fire brigade vehicles and express public buses specially laid on to serve spectators. All other vehicles, with the exception of public transport for which bus lanes have already been created in several parts of the city, will have to squeeze into a single lane. The restrictions will apply to the so-called Olympic Ring, which consists of Attiki Odos, Kifissou, Poseidonos, Syngrou, Kallirois, Ardittou, Vassileos Constantinou, Vassilissis Sofias and Kifissias avenues and extends for 36.6 kilometers (23 miles). It will also include part of a 238.5km (148-mile) network that takes in Attiki Odos, Poseidonos, Katehaki, Marathonos, Markopoulou, Varis-Koropiou and Kymis avenues, as well as a section of the National Road from Athens to Lamia. The measures will be in force from 6.30 a.m. to midnight. Officials said there would be no extra restrictions on traffic going to and from the airport or Piraeus harbor – with the proviso, for Piraeus, that the vehicles will be boarding ferries. The measures will be strictly enforced, with the aid of three traffic police helicopters, one zeppelin, 217 patrol cars, over 3,000 police and army personnel, and 800 volunteers.

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