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E65: The new “gifted” Motorway of Greece

Νίκος Καραγιάννης

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After all, there are several significant reasons for E65 Motorway to be constructed. It is probably the most “underrated” road axis among the 5 newly constructed concession projects. The first phase of its construction is stretching across just 80 km (Ksiniada-Trikala in Thessaly region) is characterized by many as a “blind” motorway as it doesn’t offer, for the time being, connections to the existing motorway network.

In 2013, both Lamia-Ksiniada in the South (32.5 km and connection to PAThE) and Trikala-Kipourio Grevenon in its northern end (62 km) were decided to be postponed and were classified as future projects.

Nevertheless, today there is interesting mobility around the pending projects as Lamia-Ksiniada has been proposed for NSRF funding and it is awaiting its approval from Brussels. Unfortunately though, the axis’ northern end, with an estimated cost of 400mn euros, is still a plan with necessary funds being searched from EIB. Even though the road follows a new design, it seems to be missing crucial characteristics that other motorways feature and could substantially facilitate its funding. There would be:

– It doesn’t connect directly 2 major cities of Greece (e.g. Patra and Thessaloniki)

– It doesn’t pass from major ports or airports

– It is not strategically located or aligned with Patras-Athens-Thessaloniki axis

– The areas served by the Motorway are fairly underpopulated.

This approach makes sense if we take under consideration that Olympia Motorway offers a connection to Patras Port, Ionian Motorway’s starting point is Rio-Antirrio Bridge that essentially connects the Greek mainland and Aegean Motorway connects the country’s 2 biggest cities while it passes from Lamia, Larissa and Volos.

If we examine E65 from that point of view, it is indeed in disadvantage, but in this case, we tend to overlook crucial strategic advantages.

E65’s “secret gifts”

It’s design, creating a third vertical motorway running across the mainland (between Ionian Motorway and PAThE corridor) creates a new, fast and reliable access to the region of Western Macedonia and the Balkans.

It also sets the foundation for the future railway line of Domokos-Karditsa-Trikala-Kozani that could be a strong alternative even to the domestic, quite possibly congested in the years to come, railway corridor of PAThE.

Therefore, it could be a springboard for the region’s commercial re-invigoration, touristic development and trigger more energy investments especially in the mountain range of Pindos, separating Thessaly from Western Macedonia with the contruction of wind parks, away from inhabited areas.

E65 could even create a competition regarding toll prices and redistribute traffic between the other 2 “parallel” motorways. And all this reducing time distance from Lamia to Kozani to just 2 hours and Athens to Kozani in 4 hours (2 hours less than the current “fastest” route).

These are more examples to support the strategic importance and functionality of E65 Motorway. What we truly wish is that another motorway will be added  in the country’s network in the next 5 years, bringing closer both domestic destinations and the country’s borderlines.

 

Nikos Karagiannis-ypodomes.com

Follow Nikos Karagiannis on Twitter

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