Athens projects more than those seen in 2004 Olympic Games - mayor

Athens mayor Kostas Bakoyiannis said that the infrastructure projects currently in progress in the Greek capital exceed those delivered for the 2004 Olympic Games.

In the run up to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the city had turned into one large construction site as Greek officials scrambled to prepare for the world’s largest sporting event by improving transports links and building a number of sports stadiums.

Bakoyiannis told a conference yesterday that the projects now being constructed, along with those in the pipeline, exceed those that prompted a construction boom seen in the Greek capital 17 years ago.

He was referring to projects such as the Great Walk, improvements to major squares (eg. in Omonia,) Lycabettus Hill and the National Gardens, along with a push by the municipality to introduce more digital services.

The Great Walk

The construction of the Great Walk is now entering its next phase. In a project that will take four years to complete, work is now starting on placing permanent fixtures on the 6.8 kilometer walkway, replacing temporary ones that were initially installed in June last year.

The project will connect ancient sites with historic central districts, in a move aimed at making the Greek capital a friendlier, greener and healthier place to live. Bike paths and car-free zones will be added, something officials hope will help tackle noise and air pollution while simultaneously boosting commerce and tourism.

With an increase in foot traffic on the cards for the city center, local and international investor interest is seen rising in the district, targeting residential and commercial real estate, retail businesses, tourism and the food and beverage industry.

There have been some early positive results though it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to make the changes that Athens needs.

In June and July, the time taken to travel down Panepistimiou Street in central Athens improved by 30 percent from year ago levels, officials say. Additionally, pollution levels have improved with CO2 car emissions having improved some 27 percent in the same time period.

However, there is still a long way to go.

Deteriorating air quality in Athens prompted the European Commission to take Greece to court in July for not doing enough to protect the city and its residents.

When it comes to public green space in Athens the picture is also bleak. OECD data shows that Athens provides just 3.4 square meters per capita, compared to 906 sq/m in Berlin, 1,070sq/m in Paris and 436 sq/m in London.