By Eleni Bota
Road, rail and flood protection projects approaching €2 billion are underway by the Ministry of Infrastructure and will transform Western Greece. Among the biggest projects being implemented today is the Patra-Pyrgos highway, a project that had been bogged down for years, but today has active construction sites again.
THE road axis Patra-Pyrgos it will be ready in 36 to 38 months, as a large part can be partially delivered even earlier than the 40 months of the contractual obligation.
With the new highway, the travel time from Patras to Pyrgos is reduced by approximately 40 minutes. Therefore, the total Athens-Pyrgos trip will now take 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Especially for the service of the Patras Industrial Area (BIPE) a 25 km free regional artery is being completed, starting from the area of Rio (18 km perimeter) and reaching the Patras Industrial Area junction (the first 7 km of the new highway ).
Also, given that the sea connections of the mainland with the Ionian islands (Zakynthos, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Kythira) begin from the prefecture of Ilia, the construction of Patras-Pyrgos will contribute to the elimination of the difficulties of connecting these islands with the rest of the regions country and will facilitate their further tourism development.
Finally, the Western Peloponnese, from Patras to its southernmost tip, Messinian Mani, has amazing sandy beaches of high natural beauty, among the most beautiful in the country.
However, the lack of transport infrastructure has prevented its tourism development at satisfactory levels. The construction of Patras-Pyrgos in combination with the existing sea connections and receiving ports (Patra-Kyllini-Katakolos, etc.), as well as the international airport of Araxos is sure to contribute to the creation of a second wave of tourism development facilities throughout the region. The contribution of the highway will also be important to the -indirect- facilitation of tourists who arrive by cruise ships at the port of Katakolo bound for Ancient Olympia.
It should be noted that alongside with the construction of the highway, “is running” and the road safety project on the existing axis with a budget of 30 million that will be completed at the beginning of 2023 with the aim, as recently pointed out by the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure G. Karagiannis, “to finally stop losing people on this car-carniola road, until the highway is completed”.
Another major road project that will be implemented in the Peloponnese is the road axis Kalamata-Rizomilos-Pylos-Methoni, with a budget of 250 million euros that proceeds through PPP. The project already has a temporary contractor and construction sites are expected to be set up in 2022.
The Private Partnership will implement the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the road axis, with a total length of approximately 50 kilometers, which includes the following sections: The Kalamata-Rizomilos section of 16.4 km, the Rizomylos-Pylos section of 25 .7 km and the Pylos-Methoni section of 7.9 km.
Also another great work, the road axis Aktio-Ambrakiawith a budget of 150 million euros, will be completed in 2023, while a few days ago, 12 years after the start of the first works on the highway, the Amfilochia Bypass, 17 kilometers long, was put into traffic.
The tradition of bypassing Amfilochia it is the most critical section of the axis as it passes through difficult mountainous points. The operation of the new department achieves two things. On the one hand, the distance between Amvrakia and Aktio is reduced and at the same time the city of Amfilochia will be decongested. Drivers will gain approximately 15 kilometers of driving compared to the existing Amvrakia-Amfilochia-Drymos route.
In the summer, the area becomes a road junction from the Ionian Way to the coasts of the Ionian, Vonitsa, Preveza, Aktio and Lefkada, with the result that there are long delays and the orderly operation of the city is hindered.
With the delivery of the Amfilochia bypass, a total of 31 of the 48.5 kilometers of the Aktio-Ambrakia highway will be operational, as 14 km from Aktio to Vonitsa have been operational since 2019. The last section where construction work continues is the Vonitsa- Forest and a small section in the area of Aktion.
The goal is for this section to be delivered by next summer and thus to put the entire highway into full operation.
In the final stretch also enters road connection of Lefkada with Aktio and the Western Axiswith a budget of 48 million euros to be delivered in the summer of 2023.
The double connection of Lefkada is an important road project for the wider region as it will connect the island with Aktion Airport (from where dozens of tourist flights from all over Europe land) but also with the Ionia and Amvrakia Odos.
The big railway projects
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport attaches great importance to the development of the railway, where a coherent project program is being developed.
“We are moving forward in a coordinated manner with the major railway projects that the region needs” Mr. Karagiannis recently pointed out, specifically mentioning: “We are completing the works and tenders in the Kiato-Rododafni and Rododafni-Rio sections with a total budget of 565 million euros, we have auctioned the large project from Rio to the port of Patras with the large part of the undergrounding within the urban fabric of the city with a budget of 470 million and we are proceeding with the upgrade of the line from Kato Achaia to Pyrgos where the train does not reach today”.