Transport network races to finish

Construction work on major infrastructure projects that were planned to help ease traffic before the Olympic Games is reaching completion at a rapid rate after long delays that had created the risk that some might not be ready in time. Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, who took part in a traditional tsamiko dance to express his relief, yesterday handed over Varis-Koropiou Avenue to the public, easing traffic between the southern coast on the Saronic Gulf and the Mesogeia region that includes Athens Airport and the Attiki Odos. «This was a personal bet and we won, because when we took over a few months ago, nobody believed the road would finish,» Souflias said, referring to the March 7 elections that the New Democracy party won. The 14-kilometer road was widened into an avenue at a cost of 58 million euros (after an initial budget of 49.5 million). During construction, a silversmith’s workshop dating from about 3,000 BC, was discovered at Labrika. The oldest such workshop ever found, it was buried again so that the road could pass. Another troubled project, the Marathon Route, will be completed next week, the Public Works Ministry said. Also, in two weeks, the metro will be running between Syntagma Square and Athens Airport, carrying passengers there in 37 minutes at a cost of 8 euros. Next Monday, July 19, the tram will begin commercial operations and the suburban railway will begin operating soon. «By the end of July all the systems – the metro, the tram and the suburban railway, and the renewed fleet of urban transportation vehicles – will provide a complete, modernized network that will serve travelers during the Olympic Games and, most importantly, the citizens of the Attica basin,» Transport Minister Giorgos Liapis said.