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Τraffic woes on Attiki Odos expose weakness in Athens road links

According to data provided by Attiki Odos, the number of vehicles using the highway every day rose 15 percent in 2018 ,to 226,035 from 196,960 in 2014. The figure was in the range of 232,000 in August. Traffic on some parts of the 70-kilometer highway comes to a complete standstill, particularly during peak hours, highlighting the need for improved road networks in the Greek capital.

Traffic on Attiki Odos, a highway that circles around the broader Athens area, has picked up in recent years with 400,000 more vehicles using the road every day, compared with 2014. Traffic on some parts of the 70-kilometer highway comes to a complete standstill, particularly during peak hours, highlighting the need for improved road networks in the Greek capital.

According to data provided by Attiki Odos, the number of vehicles using the highway every day rose 15 percent in 2018 ,to 226,035 from 196,960 in 2014. The figure was in the range of 232,000 in August. Other highway concessions operating in Attica, such as Olympia Odos and Nea Odos, have also seen a rise in traffic numbers in the last two years.

Difficult traffic conditions experienced by Athens drivers every day highlight the need for significant new road projects across the broader area. The Metamorfosi interchange was never fully completed on the grounds that another larger junction would be built nearby. Also, the extension of the Kimis avenue was never built, with the only real options for an add on to this road being an underground pass. This is a plan that appears to have been adopted though the cost is far greater than building an above-ground extension.

Vasilis Halkias, chief executive of Attika Diadromes, the company that manages Attiki Odos, admitted recently that "traffic congestion during morning and afternoon peaks hours on central parts of Attiki Odos occurs every day. The central part of the Attiki Odos runs from the Doukissis Plakentias interchange to Metamorfosi in an 8-kilometer stretch and includes 6 junctions. Traffic congestion at the Metamorfosi exit is heavy."

With the concession agreement for Attiki Odos expiring in 2024, the government will need to find a solution in the next few years regarding the extension of the highway. It appears that the new projects will not be feasible as stand-alone contracts, meaning that drivers will be hit with more road tolls in a move that will reduce traffic numbers.

Construction group Ellaktor, which controls Attiki Odos, is aware of this, as is Greece's Transport Ministry. That is why they are looking at combining the new projects, such as the extension to Lavrio or the Argyroupolis tunnel, that will connect the airport with Vouliagmenis, with the extension of the Attiki Odos concession.

One of the proposals that have been prepared by Attiki Odos is to make use of the 10-13 parking areas on the highway. This would allow drivers to drop off their vehicles and hop on to public transport, helping reduce traffic numbers. But the idea seems difficult to implement given the limited number of buses on offer to transport passengers in the area.

Until action is taken, drivers will have to be patient.

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