NEWS

Athens of the future will be less congested

As he was shown round the works of the Attiki Odos highway at the OTE intersection in Maroussi, due for completion at the end of this year, the prime minister pleaded last Tuesday for Athenians to show patience and understanding until completion of the works that will relieve the city of its huge traffic problem and «would turn Athens into a city with more respect for its inhabitants.» Together with Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou, Prime Minister Costas Simitis was shown round the three-level interchange by the chairman of the building consortium, Dimitris Koutras, descending 13 meters below the surface to the bottom level, through which Attiki Odos and the suburban- light railway will run. On the second level, at a depth of 3 meters, Attiki Odos is intersected by a section of Kifissias Avenue, which will be completed at the end of April as a freeway without traffic lights. On the surface, there will be a roundabout which has already been built and will be used as the entrance to and exit from Attiki Odos. The prime minister also visited another intersection under construction, at Doukissis Plakentias Road, possibly the most important in the whole of Attica. Here, the Western Hymettus Peripheral Highway, the Elefsina-Stavros-Spata highway, the Athens Metro and the suburban railway will all meet, supplemented by a number of bus terminals. The intersection is a three-level interchange lying on the borders of Aghia Paraskevi, Halandri and Vrilissia, which connects Attiki Odos with the western section of the Hymettus Peripheral Highway, providing entrance to and exit from the airport at Spata, access to and from Elefsina as well as Aghia Paraskevi, Papagou and Katehaki Avenue. At the same time, it offers unimpeded passenger access to Stavros metro station and the station for the suburban railway. The intersection at Doukissis Plakentias was redesigned after a stretch of Attiki Odos 750 meters long was sunk partially underground on the boundary between Vrilissia and Halandri, with the result that 4 hectares of land were returned to these municipalities. The transport hub at Doukissis Plakentias will enable interconnections for all of Athens via a road and railway network – from the Thriasio plain (Elefsina) to the Mesogeia region and the airport at Spata, from there to Piraeus, and from the airport at Spata to the western and southern suburbs of Athens. The year 2003 is the date set for completion for the intersection while that of Acharnes is set for December of next year. By December 2002, several stretches of highway will also be complete: the Elefsina-Aegaleo sections, those of Kymis-Kifissias-Pendelis, Aegaleo-Metamorphosis and Pendelis-Gerakas, while in about two months, the Pallini-Glyka Nera section will also have been finished. Not a pick to be seen While the prime minister was expressing his satisfaction at the progress of the Attiki Odos works, delays in the same projects were being cited by ex-Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, a member of the Education Affairs committee. At a hearing where Olympic winners gave a briefing on their state of preparedness, he said: «In my area at least, not a pick has started work on the sports venues that have been programmed. I wonder if we’re waiting for the picks to break ground before we start producing athletes?»