New Olympic look for Faliron coastline

An impressive and much debated Olympic project is to bring about a complete overhaul of the Faliron Bay coastline. Construction of the beach volleyball court, boxing and tae kwon do venues will comprise only part of the transformation of what is now little more than a wasteland. The Environment and Public Works Ministry has embarked on a race against the clock to get the job done by August 2004. Three out of the four contracts have been going full pelt since last week, and tenders have been called for the fourth phase. Before and after 2004 Of course, the initial delays led the ministry to review the original plans, postponing the ecology park and open swimming pool until after the Olympic Games, as there just isn’t time. Also postponed are the canal along the Moschato waterfront, the transfer of the present raised coastal highway and, of course, all the cultural and sports areas apart from those needed for the Olympics, as well as the public spaces, walkways and parks. Nevertheless, during the Olympic phase there will be a number of infrastructure and road works, already under way, which will also serve the sites scheduled for after the Games. The entire project is sited along the coast between the Kifissos River estuary and the Faliron Delta, divided into six units. The first links the area with the Kifissos River and will be the site of the post-Olympics ecology park. In the meantime, the land will be levelled to link the Peace and Friendship Stadium to the beach volleyball center by means of a secondary road. The second unit will be the site of an open swimming pool and other sporting venues planned for after the Games. The third, to be built for the Olympics, includes the 10,000-seat beach volleyball court, to be transformed into a 4,000-seat theater and auxiliary buildings after the Games. The fourth section is a sailing center for 400 boats and three piers, clubhouse facilities and other facilities for fishermen. A 50-square-meter esplanade is to be built next to it, linking the city with the sea, and passing above the roads. The sixth zone, on the Faliron Delta, will be the site of an 8,000-seat gymnastics center for the tae kwon do and preliminary volleyball events, as well as a temporary 9,000-seat arena for the boxing, replaced after 2004 with a park and walkways. Canals and islands later In addition,1,400 meters of coastline will be reconstructed, and a 56.5-meter canal, four meters deep, is to be opened by 2006, into which the Ilissos River and the Moschato and Kallithea storm water channels will flow. During the period of the Games, three sections of the canal will be opened at the points of Ilissos, Moschato and Kallithea but cannot be completed yet as the upper part of the canal is to flow along what is now the raised coastal avenue. By 2006, the canal will form two islands, one containing the ecology park and the swimming center, and the other, cultural and sports venues and the sailing center. The coastal highway will pass over the two islands. Five bridges are being built to link the Olympic installations over the Ilissos, the storm water channels, the Syngrou intersection, esplanade, and the footbridge to the marina. Parking areas are to be located near the auxiliary buildings for the beach volleyball and are for athletes and officials, as the public will have to leave their cars in parking areas at what is now the racetrack, where buses will be waiting to take them to the events. The entire project has been budgeted at 208,400,000 euros and is expected to be completed by January 2004.