Attiki Odos heads for roadblock

Plans to extend the Attiki Odos toll highway by building a long tunnel through Mount Hymettus are set to be challenged in court, a group of lawyers, engineers and local officials revealed yesterday. Members of the Technical Chamber of Greece, the Athens Bar Association, officials from the Eastern Attica Prefecture and the mayors of Hellenikon, Alimos and Kaisariani held a news conference yesterday to reveal that they are opposed to the project, which was unveiled earlier this year, to extend the highway to southern Athens and the Mesogeia area east of the city. «The new plans do not protect Hymettus, instead it is threatened by mass development, which will follow the expansion of the road network,» the representatives said. According to plans unveiled in February by Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias, the Attiki Odos would be extended by some 62 kilometers, almost doubling the ground that the highway currently covers. Part of the project, which is due to be completed by 2013, would see the road extended from the Katehaki junction so it reaches the coastal Poseidonos Avenue in southern Athens, passing through the neighborhoods of Ilioupoli, Argyroupoli and Hellenikon. Wary of complaints from environmental campaigners who have already targeted him for failing to protect Hymettus from construction, Souflias said that 85 percent of this section of the road would consist of tunnels. The campaigners yesterday said that Souflias had promised to make detailed plans available so they could be scrutinized but had failed to fulfill his pledge. The mayors expressed fear that the plans would lead to their districts being «split in two.» They said that they would organize public protests to oppose the project. Eastern Attica Prefect Leonidas Kouris said that he has repeatedly asked the ministry to supply him with estimates for the number of vehicles that will use the new section of the Attiki Odos but that these projections have not been sent to him.

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