NEWS

Traffic breather expected by January

Things are at their worst on Athens roads and can only get better, according to Brigadier Constantine Tzekis, director of the Attica Traffic Police. Two of Athens’s central arteries, Kifissias and Mesogeion avenues, the sources of major traffic jams in recent months due to various public works in progress, are expected to be freed up by January and traffic will begin to flow even faster than before the works began. According to traffic police figures, every day an average of 75,000 vehicles use Kifissias Avenue in each direction, and another 65,000 each way along Mesogeion, compared to 45,000 each way just two years ago. Those who were chiefly to blame, Tzekis told Kathimerini recently, were the municipal authorities in the districts through which these avenues pass. In order to reduce the number of vehicles passing through their districts, they had made one-way streets and other changes that made any alternate routes unfeasible and drivers were forced out onto the main road. Greater authority has been given to the Aghia Paraskevi traffic police department, which is responsible for a large section of the road network that received the brunt of the burden. The number of officers has been increased from 50 to 130 and another 30 are expected to be added soon. Traffic police are on duty continually at crucial points along the route. As a result, traffic jams have been fewer than expected. As of this month, drivers in Athens will be facing one more obstacle – construction work on the parking lot at the Syngrou-Fix Metro station, which will mean restrictions to traffic flow on Syngrou Avenue. As of January next year, there will be room to breathe again, at least on Kifissias and Mesogeion, as another section of the Attiki Odos opens linking Pendelis Avenue with the Athens-Lamia national highway, to be used by an estimated 25,000 vehicles daily. By summer next year, the Hymettus ring road will be open, and Mesogeion will revert to being just a «quiet narrow street, like before,» according to Tzekis. Also by summer, the section of the Attiki Odos between the national highway and Ano Liosia will be open, absorbing much of the traffic in western Attica.