What it means in real time: clocking traffic through the city

Kathimerini went on several drives through the city streets, armed with a chronometer and a great deal of patience, over a period of a week during morning hours, along main roads where works are in progress but when there were no unusual circumstances such as strikes, demonstrations or visiting statesmen which would have made delays even longer. We found that a 43-kilometer journey around the city took about three hours, and it took 15-20 minutes to get through a traffic light at a particularly busy intersection on Kifissias Avenue. Between 8 and 10 a.m., waiting to get onto Kymis Avenue where the Attiki Odos works are in progress, at a traffic light on a temporary bridge, we took took 12-13 minutes to move about 800 meters. Moving along Kifissias Avenue between 10 a.m. and noon, trying to turn into Katehaki Avenue, we took about 35 minutes to cross the three main intersections to Halandri, Psychico and the Katehaki bridge, a distance of about 3 kilometers (about 12 minutes per kilometer). Again on Kifissias Avenue, between 10 a.m and noon, we took 18 minutes to travel the 1.5 kilometers from the Gerokomeio area to Alexandras Avenue. Moving along Marathonos Avenue between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., between the Attiki Odos intersection at Gerakas to the Stavros-Aghia Paraskevi flyover, we took 20 minutes for a distance of less than 2 kilometers. We took 16-17 minutes to drive down Kifissou Avenue, where works are in progress over the river between Rendi and the intersection with Pireos Street (a distance of about 2 kilometers). Adding up these distances gives a total traveling time of one hour and 40 minutes for a distance of 9.5 kilometers. This is no news to people who take their cars into town every day. Five minutes earlier or later can make a world of difference – for better or worse. A double-parked car, an accident, a traffic light out of order, the briefest of delays with the Metro, have unbelievable effects on traffic and can lead to major delays along an entire route, while, on the other hand, good timing at the traffic lights can work wonders. It seems that peak hours are becoming more frequent and of longer duration, with a boomerang effect on surrounding streets over a wide area, while the duration of the delay is impossible to predict. Places drivers should avoid The Environment and Public Works Ministry recently issued a warning to drivers advising them to avoid certain areas and suggesting alternative routes. Kifissias Avenue: Overhead intersections are being built at Pharos, Psychico, Paradeisos and Maroussi. At Pharos, the direction heading north has three lanes, while at certain points heading south there are only two, a third being diverted along the parallel street, Marathonodromon. Three lanes have been kept open at Paradeisos. These intersections are to be ready by early 2004. Construction will begin on two more flyovers, at Aghia Varvara and Filothei, after the Olympics. Marathonos Avenue: a) On the Stavros-Attiki Odos section, one lane going toward Athens and two toward Rafina. Work will be completed by the end of the year. b) The Attiki Odos-Marathon section is being widened in Pallini, to be completed by early 2004. One lane has been kept open in each direction. Vari Avenue-Koropi: The road is being widened and one lane kept open in each direction. Problems occur at the intersection with the Vari-Varkiza road. The ministry asks drivers coming from Varkiza, Lagonisi and Saronida toward Vouliagmenis Avenue, Piraeus or Athens not to use the Vari-Varkiza road but the coast road toward Vouliagmeni and then Vouliamenis or Poseidonos Avenues. This project is due for completion in early 2004. Kifissou Avenue flyover on Poseidonos Avenue: Two lanes in each direction have been kept open along the section of Kifissou Avenue between Petrou Ralli Street and Pireos Street but, heading south, these two lanes have to accept all the traffic from the four lanes on the main highway. As work on the Kifissou-Poseidonos flyover progresses, considerable changes will be made along this route. Again, work is scheduled for completion in early 2004. OAKA (Olympic Stadium): The Kymis-Spyrou Louis intersection is under construction, along with the section linking Kymi with Neratziotissis Street. Two lanes have been kept open in each direction. Further instructions are expected regarding work on Spyrou Louis Street. Poseidonos Avenue: Three lanes have been kept open in each direction. The Poseidonos-Alimou avenues intersection is under construction. Extensions to the Metro are also under way, meaning major diversions from the current terminus at Ethniki Amyna and Stavros. Sections of Mesogeion Avenue have already been diverted, although three lanes have been kept open. Construction of the Halandri station on Doukissis Plakentias Street will require occasionally closing off parts of the road, diverting it to surrounding streets.