New roads to shift city up a gear

The Environment and Public Works Ministry unveiled plans yesterday for the construction of a 55-kilometer highway road network to be built around Attica at a cost of 1.2 billion euros. «With these projects, we are doubling the roads with high-speed traffic and contributing decisively to upgrading the environment and easing traffic congestion in central Attica,» said Minister Giorgos Souflias. Construction plans are based on six different projects that include linking the Attiki Odos to southern parts of the city, through a 14.5-kilometer underground tunnel that will ease traffic in the eastern and southern parts of the capital. Plans also include the construction of a 3.5-kilometer tunnel through Mt Hymettus and reconstruction of parts of Poseidonos Avenue as an underground road. Ninety percent of the total 55 kilometers will be underground. The initial tender process is seen as being launched by the end of the year with the roads expected to be open for use in 2013, including the toll booths. «Toll charges are a basic part of the tender and the only thing I can say is that the toll charges may be cheaper than those that we are paying on the existing Attiki Odos, but under no circumstances will they be more expensive,» said the minister. Drivers will be hit with a toll charge through an electronic monitoring system that will determine the charge applicable, depending on the distance of the new road used by the vehicle. Opposition parties described the announcements as old news. «Mr Souflias repeated without reason plans and announcements of five years ago,» said PASOK’s Yiannis Magriotis.