Conflict intensifies over tram route plan

The confrontation over the exact line to be followed by the tram route has intensified following a refusal by Transport Ministry experts to accept a new plan proposed by the Culture Ministry. The former insist that distancing the tramway from Amalias Avenue would create many complex problems which would remove the intended benefit of a tram – its speed. «In any case,» they contend, «a tramline used to pass in front of Hadrian’s Gate» even up until the 1950s and this was an older version without built-in underground shock absorption.» Meanwhile, Culture Ministry experts maintain that «mingling the tram with other traffic will compromise the size of the investment as well as the richness of a European and international experience.» For this reason, the former designed their own alternative proposal during a long meeting on Wednesday and presented it to Transport Minister Christos Verelis. Specifically, they proposed that the tramway should run along the central islet of Kallirois Street, in the direction of the city center, turn left at Vourvahi Street, cross Syngrou Avenue, and continue along Hadzichristou and Makriyianni streets. «Then, by means of Dionysiou Areopagitou, it will emerge on the left-hand side of Amalias Avenue and travel along its own lane toward Syntagma Square, against the flow of traffic, ending up at Othonis. On the return route to Glyfada, it will make use of the already constructed sections on Vassilisis Olgas Avenue and Ardittou Street and then resume its route, once again, along the central islet of Kallirois.» On the contested section on Amalias, between Dionysiou Areopagitou and Vassilisis Olgas, it is recommended that the tram runs along a slightly raised surface in order to minimize the necessary excavation works and avoid interference with archaeological finds. Distancing the tram’s passage from the site of Hadrian’s Gate will mean the construction of a shock-absorbent plate is no longer necessary, reducing the depths of required excavation work. If the Transport Ministry accepts the proposal of Culture Ministry experts, the potential benefits of the new proposal will be: 1) Fewer traffic problems on the excessively congested section of Amalias between Dionysiou Areopagitou and Syngrou Avenue. 2) A link with one more Metro stop – the Acropolis. 3) Easier access to the areas of Makriyianni and Plaka and surrounding archaeological and cultural sites. 4) The extension of the tramway along the archaeological route will run up to Thiseion Station where the initial groundwork for an junction with the tram has already been established.