Red light for Attiki Odos extension

A controversial public works project to extend the Attiki Odos by more than 70 kilometers, which had been heralded by the previous New Democracy administration, was scrapped yesterday by the government which said that it would review the scheme and possibly revive it on a much smaller scale. Since ND unveiled the road extension project earlier this year, a number of professional and residents’ groups have voiced their opposition because they fear it will damage the environment in several Athenian suburbs. It had been rumored for the past few weeks that the government would pull the plug on the scheme but yesterday’s decision was also influenced by the need for the government to slash public spending. «We believe that limiting the project to a more manageable scale is a responsible choice and would allow us to address the environmental impacts of the work,» said Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas. «The decision is also affected by the cost of expropriating property, which would have sent the overall cost of the project spiraling upward.» Reppas hit out at his predecessor, Giorgos Souflias, suggesting that the extension of the highway, which links various parts of Athens with the city’s airport and Elefsina, had not been properly thought through. Souflias planned to extend Attiki Odos by 71.6 kilometers. This would include the construction of a 4-kilometer tunnel through Mount Hymettus in eastern Athens. Just last month, residents of eastern Athens suburbs joined forces with environmental organizations to submit an appeal to the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, in a bid to prevent plans to extend the Attiki Odos highway through Mount Hymettus because of fears about the environmental impact it would have.

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