The recent unveiling by the City of Athens of its ambitious plans for Vasilissis Olgas Avenue came as an indirect response to the negative reactions toward the works to revamp the city center.
The capital’s municipal authority is planning to use an updated version of a 2011-14 design and construction is slated to begin in 2021. Vasilissis Olgas Avenue will be converted into a pedestrian walkway which will also significantly increase the presence of greenery in the area. More than 150 new trees, 5,500 shrubs and 3,500 “luxury” plants will be introduced. The design of the new planted areas will aim to highlight the already existing large trees, mainly cypress and olives; however, entire new areas of greenery will be created as well. The tram will continue to operate along the road, but a new bicycle lane will be added, and unobstructed movement for people with disabilities throughout the space is also part of the design.
The lighting of the walkway will be reminiscent of that along Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, while it is expected that to the left and right of Hadrian’s Arch fixtures will be placed to highlight both the monument and the view through the arch to the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Marble benches and low cylindrical constructions will be used to highlight the walkway connecting Vasilissis Olgas Avenue with Dionysiou Areopagitou Street and Ardittos Hill. The walkway itself will be laid with slate slabs, while either marble or quality concrete will be used too. These secondary materials will be used to emphasize the route as well as the key monuments along the way, such as Hadrian’s Arch, the statue of Lord Byron, the statue of Alexander the Great and Zappeion Hall.
Adjustments will be carried out in such a way that the smooth operation of both Zappeion Hall and the Athens Tennis Club is ensured. The southbound tram lane will also be used by private cars entering and leaving the Athens Tennis Club, as well as certain modes of public transport. There will be an entry lane to the Aigli parking space at Zappeion for private cars. These will exit via the small street at the southeast end of the Fokianos Sports Park.
The northbound tram stop on Ardittou Street will be moved onto the walkway opposite the stop in the southbound direction next to the gate of the National Gymnastics Club.
Vasilissis Olgas Avenue is a road with exceptionally light traffic. It is the adjustments on Panepistimiou Street that have generated most of the controversy.