Which tunnel will save Athens from traffic?

tunnel

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis informed the Parliament about the undergrounding of the Ilioupolis to West Attica tunnel in the context of the parliamentary audit.

Karamanlis emphasised that the undergrounding of the Ilioupolis tunnel is one of the absolutely necessary projects in order to prevent Athens from becoming an inaccessible city in the future.

He noted that upgrading the traffic capacity of Vouliagmenis Avenue will ensure access to Elliniko and will act as an alternative option for citizens moving from northern Attica to the southern suburbs, completely bypassing the centre.

The minister explained that this upgrade will be achieved by completely leveling the intersections of Vouliagmeni Avenue, with a parallel lowering of it as it is technically called - without affecting the existing Metro line and its possible extensions.

"Because we believe in this project, we achieved the inclusion of its maturation studies in the PDE for the Programming Period 2021-2027," he stressed.

Karamanlis stated that the physical scope of the studies required for the maturation of the project includes:

  • The construction of a 3 kilometre long urban tunnel that connects the Perimetriki Imittos with Vouliagmenis Avenue.
  • The upgrading of the traffic capacity of the Perimetriki Imittos from the junction of Katehaki to the entrance of the tunnel.
  • The upgrading of the traffic capacity of Vouliagmeni Avenue, an avenue that is already saturated.

The preparation of the studies for this project will mainly be carried out with a very fast process, which will be included in the Framework Agreement for the provision of Technical Consultant services to the administration, the minister explained.

"This is a very large study. We have already included it in our planning", he underlined, emphasising that: "At the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport we work a lot with the design-build model to speed up the procedures".

Karamanlis therefore revealed some thoughts in order to run the procedures with even greater speed.

"If we do it with the procedure that exists in the Greek State, it will take three years or more for it to mature," he pointed out. "We often think outside the box. We have been in contact with the investor, Lamda Development, and have asked them to seriously consider taking on the cost of the study."

Karamanlis stated that the relevant negotiation is currently underway and stated that he will inform the Parliament when he has news.

He also commented that neither the State nor the private investor had foreseen that by carrying out a redevelopment of such a size, a traffic load would be created in the area and access should be provided both by road and by means of public transport.

Karamanlis pointed out that the project of undergrounding the Ilioupolis tunnel is a technically very difficult project, but it has entered the implementation phase.

He also reminded that a new suburban railway line, 36 km long, which will start from Ano Liosia, pass through Aspropyrgos, Elefsina and end in Megara ,will utilise the old metric line, which has been put out of service for about 15 years.

The minister also commented that: "We are in 2022, we are not in 1975. The railway has changed. We will have 72 trains a day from zero today. If we had gone with the solution of making a double railway line, I guarantee you that the project would never have been done."

The Minister of Infrastructure and Transport also pointed out that the Recovery Fund has very tight margins, which means that this project will have to be completed by 2026, otherwise the whole program is at risk.

George K. Andris is a columnist for News Auto.

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Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor