First vehicles cross Rio bridge

Shortly after 6 p.m. yesterday, the first cars started to roll over the new Rio-Antirio bridge, which was completed four-and-a-half months ahead of schedule and considerably cuts the time taken to travel between the Peloponnese and western central Greece. Inaugurating the 2.25km (1.4-mile) structure – which includes the world’s longest suspension decks – Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias paid tribute to the previous, Socialist government during whose administration most of the work was completed. «This bridge is a technical and aesthetic masterpiece,» Souflias, a civil engineer by training, told a crowd attending the inauguration ceremony, which included Socialist former Prime Minister Costas Simitis and other top PASOK officials. Both Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and opposition leader George Papandreou were absent. The crossing for cars costs 9.70 euros, while the toll for buses and trucks will exceed 50 euros.

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