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The never-ending project of Heraklion – Messara road axis



A political controversy has been triggered regarding the completion of Heraklion-Messara road project, part of Crete’s Southern Motorway Axis (aka NOAK). The last section under construction, Aghia Varvara-Apormaras, is being carried out with a “sweep contract” facing the danger to return funds provided by the EU, due to its long delays.

Yesterday, the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Mr. Christos Spirtzis, during his visit in Crete island, said that 4 projects are due to operate in the following days, releasing to operation section that have been anticipated for decaded by the citizens of Heraklion and Lasithi. These projects are Gouves-Hersonissos section, Hamezi Bridge, the entirety of the project at Aposelemi, (i.e. apart from the dam), the refinery, the tunnel and the road to Messara.

A never-ending project

The project for the upgrading of Heraklion-Messara road axis has started since the mid-1980s(!). Only in 2007 the construction of the 7.5 km section to Aghia Varvara was finally completed. The rest of the road, from Aghia Varvara to Kastelli, was divided into two contracts. The first one (Apomarmas – Kastelli), 7.9 km long, started in 2007 and was completed by 2013 while the second contract, concerning Aghia Varvara-Apormarma with a length of 7.8 km, encountered the most important problems. It started in 2008 but was never completed.

The Ministry of Infrastructure announced a new tender in 2014, at a cost of 47m euros, to be held on December, 9. However, the signing of the relevant contract came almost 2 years later, in September 2016 providing for a construction phase of 24 months and a completion deadline at April 26, 2019. The contractor of the project is the J/V ERETVO-EKTER-DOMIKI KRITIS.

Banking works for the 8 km-long project have been very demanding, as continuous landslides had to be tackled, while the construction included the 220 m. Panassos Bridge, the completion of Aghia Varbara tunnel as well as other remaining works from previous contracts. All contracts have been funded by NSRF programs and all deadlines for the completion and operation of the axis have been now reached.

The completion of the project will result in the faster and safer connection of Heraklion city to the resst of the prefecture, while the connection with Kastelli will be a future alternative route with the under-construction airport.




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