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Tender for Crete’s Northern Motorway Axis to split in 3 parts



The tender for the construction of Crete’s Northern Motorway Axis is going to split in 3 parts. According to sources from the Ministry of Infrastructure, this solution was opted for as the project cannot be funded as a single concession.

Low traffic figures and local movements observed on the current axis are the biggest obstacles for a single and unified tender.

In the framework of the new scenario, the first, “core” section of the road, from Chania to Hersonissos Heraklion, will be the scope of the concession (it was the main part of the project until one year ago, when the project was extended to Aghios Nikolaos, in Eastern Crete). The estimated cost is 1.1bn euros and it is the most “mature” section for its tender to be launched.

The second section (around 20km), from Hersonissos to Neapoli, will be implemented as a PPP project. This solution will allow the State to cover thhe costs, in the long run, with availability payments, as it is done in similar cases, elsewhere.

The estimated cost is 250mln euros but this solution is expected to give the project the necessary time to mature. Well-informed sources from the Ministry claim that the second section could be tendered almost simultaneously with the conceded section above.

For the third 14-km long section, extending from Neapoli to Aghios Nikolaos, for the time being, various solutions are being considered, one of which is to proceed in tendering it as a typical public project, although this would be much more time-consuming, since funding should be secured.

The greatest challenge would be its inclusion in NSRF 2014-2020, because, as the experience showed in the case of Patra-Pyrgos Motorway where the project was scrutinized both by DG Move and DG Comp. This road section, having the lowest traffic rates, is expected to face difficulties in securing necessary funds.

Motorway characteristics

Currently, Ministry of Infrastructure is struggling for the finalization of the Motorways technical characteristics. For the first section, 2 lanes per direction are secured and an effort is being made for the addition of emergency lanes, making the axis identical with the motorways in mainland Greece.

For the section extending from Hersonissos to Aghios Nikolaos, it is very likely that we will see an expressway with 2 lanes per direction. The road will be almost identical with the previous section with a slight reduction of the speed limit (probably set at 100-110 km/h).

A similar example can be found on Thessaloniki-Potidea-Kassandria axis, where the driver has the impression of driving on a motorway, although he is not characterized as such but as an expressway.

Possible problems

The course of this “triple” tender competition will probably result in different completion dates for the total length of the axis, from Chania to Aghios Nikolaos and this may be a reason for reactions from the residents of Crete, who have raised a strong demand of not paying any tolls (a privilege that does not applies in any other part of the country).

Funding and attracting joint ventures for the construction of this project will be also a challenge, especially in the case that it is tight in terms of budget, making it hardly attractive for prospective contenders. Of course, a positive counterweight will be the shortage of new major projects that will encourage, at least Greek companies, to take part in the triple (?) tender.



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