ΑΤΗΕΝS – You know it’s a big event when NBA star Magic Johnson is there and he and his wife were pictured traveling through Greece’s Corinth Canal as it reopened after being shut down for 18 months for repairs.
A series of landslides had shut down the canal that saves vessels sailing from the Ionian to the Aegean Sea some 130 nautical miles, the work a marvel of 19th Century engineering for the man-made passageway.
The canal is about 6.3 kilometers (3.91 miles) long, 24 meters (78.7 feet) wide at its base, and eight meters (26.24 feet) deep. It is difficult to navigate for many modern large ships, but is still popular for smaller vessels and a unique tourist attraction, said the Chinese news agency Xinhua in a report.
“It reopened to navigation, as the first phase of the restoration works was completed,” George Zouglis, General Manager of Corinth Canal told the news agency during a tour across the canal.
Further repair of the canal will continue and while it will handle summer traffic it will close again in early October for more work, set to reopen again in the summer of 2023 in a grand reopening then.
The repair work stabilized the banks and added fencing at the top along with a 3.5-kilometer (2.17-mile) paved footpath for visitors to gaze at the canal and ships passing through the engineering marvel.
During the first week of operation in July nearly 400 vessels went through and some 7,000 are expected in October, showing its importance in reducing the distance between the seas.