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Society

COVID-19’s Empty Greek Roads Brings Chance to Fix Them

ATHENS – Traffic in Athens is back heavy with the gradual lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown but with roads around the country free of cars for months, engineers have assessed how to bring critical repairs and fix danger spots.

Greece is among the European Union's most dangerous for driving despite major new highways being built in recent years but there are still some 7,000 dangerous locations, said the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

In 2020, when there was little traffic, Greece had 54 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants, while the EU average was 42 per 1 million, according to the European Commission.

Earlier this year, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis presented a 450-million-euro ($537.22 million) national action plan to improve road safety. Besides repairing danger areas, the plan will provide road education for the young and warnings about speeding, drunk driving and using seat belts and helmets.

In Attica, the biggest prefecture and home of the Greek capital and one-third of the country's population, officials are accelerating projects to improve roads in a bid to lower dangerous crashes and fatalities.

“We put emphasis on safety infrastructure. In several sites throughout Attica, an extensive program of new asphalt paving is underway,” Attica Governor Giorgos Patoulis told the news agency. 

“On the coastal front and especially in the bay of Faliro, under a 115 million-euro project, infrastructure works will help the management of rainwater, and new bridges and junctions will facilitate traffic flow,” he also added.

Across the greater Athens area, crews are repainting lane markings, installing new signs and upgrading traffic lights using photovoltaic systems a key Traffic Management Center analyzing data from about 300 closed-circuit TV cameras and other sources to monitor traffic and intervene when needed.

As one of the first in Europe, the Traffic Management Center is aimed at “providing travel time data regarding the urban area,” said Panagiotis Kariotis, head of the Directorate of Metropolitan Infrastructure Management of Attica.

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