NEWS

Tempe road reopening in sight

The delivery this week of two reports on the deadly December rockfall in the Vale of Tempe is expected to lead to efforts to reopen that section of the Athens-Thessaloniki highway, which has been closed for the last three weeks as a result of the accident. Sources told Kathimerini that the company responsible for managing this section of the road, Aegean Motorway SA, and a separate team of Greek and foreign experts are due to submit to the Infrastructure Ministry by tomorrow the results of their investigation into what caused the massive rockfall in Tempe on December 17. The scene of the disaster has been left untouched so that the experts could carry out a full inspection of the site in northern Thessaly. However, once authorities know that the inspections have been completed, they will be able to commence in earnest the effort to clean up and repair the road. Sources said that this means the Vale of Tempe section of the highway could open by the end of the month. An Italian engineer was killed when almost 100 tons of rocks fell onto the road before Christmas. At the time, authorities said that it would take at least a month for the highway to be cleared and opened to cars again. In the meantime, diversions around Tempe have been set up for cars, buses and trucks. The diversions range between 23 and 53 kilometers in length and add an extra 45 minutes to an hour to journeys. Aegean Motorway’s report is expected to focus on explaining exactly what happened and what measures need to be taken to ensure that something similar does not happen again. However, the Infrastructure Ministry has also appointed its own team of experts, headed by a Greek geology professor but also including scientists from Austria, France and Canada. There are many geological faults in Tempe and it is thought that a combination of tectonic activity, heavy rainfall and the way that the rock was cut in the 1950s when the road through the valley was built is responsible for last month’s accident.