Scholars' Association News
Issue 27
August 2013


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Re-think Athens : The project implementation

The works for the restructuring of the center of Athens are set to commence in mid 2014 and are estimated to be completed in about one and a half years, as announced in early June 2013 at the meeting of all involved parties, i.e. the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks, the Region of Attica, the City of Athens, ATTIKO METRO S.A., and with the support of the Onassis Foundation. After the successful completion of the European architectural competition "Re-think Athens" for the transformation of the metropolitan center, and following the selection of the proposal submitted by the Dutch architecture agency OKRA as the winning proposition, the Onassis Foundation is now funding the winner of the competition to conduct the necessary architectural studies, and ATTIKO METRO to carry out the rest of the technical studies concerning the extension of the tram line, bioclimatic studies, the study of environmental impact, topographical studies, as well as traffic and transportation studies.

The project entitled "Re-organization of the city centre along the axis of Panepistimiou Street" includes two major interventions covering the area between Syntagma Square and Egiptou Square: reconstruction of squares, transformation of Panepistimiou Street into a multifunctional axis (double direction tram line, bicycle lane, walkway, wayside lane for taxis, tourist buses and special function vehicles) while trolley-buses, buses and private vehicles can cross Panepistimiou Street at two points. Special provisions have been made for the delivery and catering needs of shops and the existing parking garages, as well as for changes in transportation and major traffic regulations in order to foster through traffic around the city center. The interventions-reconstructions of the urban space in combination with traffic regulations are expected to considerably change the current conditions and transport habits of the residents in the greater area inside the Athens ring, thus upgrading the metropolitan center.

In terms of public transportation, the project includes the extension of the tram line from Syntagma Square to Egiptou Square, through Panepistimiou and Patision streets, while the studies for the extension of the tramway to Ano Patisia are to commence soon. These studies are funded by the Onassis Foundation, and following their completion in autumn 2013, ATTIKO METRO is expected to launch the tender for the manufacturing of the whole project (reconstructions, tram line extension and traffic regulations).

Following recent talks between the political leadership and the responsible parties in the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks, the Ministry of Environment, Energy & Climate Change (YPEKA), and the Region of Attica, the bases for the funding of the works in the context of the "Re-Think Athens" project have been set; €30 million for reformation works in the center of Athens from the YPEKA Operational Program, €62 million for traffic regulation works and the extension of the tram line from Syntagma Square to Egiptou Square from the Regional Operational Program (ROP) of Attica.

The preliminary studies for the reconstruction works in the metropolitan center and the extension of the tramway were concluded on time with the support of the Onassis Foundation. ATTIKO METRO also completed the transportation study for traffic management in the greater area of the city center, with sponsorship from the Onassis Foundation and in collaboration with the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) and the responsible administration of the General Secretariat for Public Works. This study, which is the next more advanced stage of a relevant research project by the National Technical University of Athens, has finalized the details for the necessary traffic regulations in the center of Athens, and its results are incorporated in the other studies of the program. The final studies for the works in the framework of the program are to begin promptly, while the Environmental Impact Study is still in progress.

The President of the Onassis Foundation, Anthony Papadimitriou, described the reconstruction intervention as "A project for development, a project of substance, which will breathe new life – financially and commercially – into the metropolitan centre" as it touches upon the working-class neighbourhoods of Athens which, as he stated, suffer under the plague of recession; Kato Patisia, Kipseli, Exarhia, Neapoli, Haftia, which are home to almost one million of our fellow citizens.

And he went on to say that "as revealed in the social networking media and the public attendance at the exhibition organized, this project has been widely accepted. It is also a comprehensive project. The Onassis Foundation sees that all the necessary studies are conducted promptly." Anthony Papadimitriou also affirmed that all the required studies have been conducted and submitted within the set timeline. He also expressed his optimism that with the collaboration of all involved parties – ministries, the city and the prefecture – the project's implementation shall be concluded within the desired timeframe. The President concluded that "The Onassis Foundation on its part will do everything in its power that needs to be done."

The involved bodies met in order to coordinate their actions, and following the meeting, Kostis Hatzidakis Minister of Development, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks, Stavros Kalafatis, Deputy Minister for the Environment, Energy & Climate Change, Giorgos Kaminis, Mayor of the City of Athens, and Giannis Sgouros, Prefect of Attica, commented and confirmed the warm support of the state for this project, whose implementation should proceed with no delays so that the city of Athens can be reformed and the quality of life in the capital city upgraded.

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