Hymet­tus tun­nel di­vides opin­ion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Min­is­ters are likely to be di­vided to­day when they de­bate whether to go ahead with a con­tro­ver­sial pro­ject to con­struct a tun­nel that will run through Mount Hymet­tus to con­nect Athens’s south­ern sub­urbs with the At­tiki Odos high­way.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Tina Bir­bili has de­clared her op­po­si­tion to the pro­ject, ar­gu­ing Greece has put too much em­pha­sis on road-build­ing projects in re­cent years and not enough on pub­lic trans­port in­fra­struc­ture. How­ever, In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port Min­is­ter Dim­itris Rep­pas ap­pears in fa­vor of the tun­nel, which is planned to be 3.5 kilo­me­ters in length. The two are due to meet to­day with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Athens Reg­u­la­tory Plan Or­ga­ni­za­tion in an at- tempt to set­tle on what is go­ing to hap­pen.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and res­i­dents of the ar­eas that will be af­fected by the con­struc­tion and the in­creased traf­fic have voiced op­po­si­tion to the build­ing of the tun­nel. They were joined yes­ter­day by Rania Kloutsin­i­oti, an ar­chi­tect and town plan­ner.

“At the mo­ment, Athens is fac­ing a cri­sis like no other, so we should be fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing life in the city cen­ter and not on big projects,” she said.

Sup­port­ers of the scheme ar­gue that the tun­nel would pro­vide bet­ter ac­cess to the south­ern sub­urbs and al­low res­i­dents liv­ing there to reach the na­tional road net­work and the Me­so­geia area south­east of Athens much more eas­ily.

“It is a cru­cial pro­ject be­cause it will com­plete the road net­work and will give the south­ern sub­urbs ac­cess to the At­tiki Odos and the Na­tional Road,” said Vas­silis Halkias, the pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Greek Trans­port En­gi­neers and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of At­tiki Odos. “This will help jour­neys be­tween Athens and Me­so­geia and will re­duce traf­fic on Po­sei­donos Av­enue.”

But Kloutsin­i­oti chal­lenges this view. “We do not have the lux­ury to fa­cil­i­tate the flight to­ward Me­so­geia, nor to aid cars, es­pe­cially when their use is de­clin­ing due to the cri­sis,” she said. “If the state wants to help the con­nec­tion with Me­so­geia, it can in­vest in pub­lic trans­port.”

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