Tourism industry and commerce in north-western Greece receive transport boost

A 48.5 km ERDF co-funded road will substantially improve vehicle accessibility to the remote Ipiros province of the north-western Greek mainland, making it easier for the area to be visited by tourists as well as reducing travel times for freight transport and increasing road safety.

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For centuries the rugged and mountainous province of Ipiros (also known as Epirus), on the border between Greece and Albania, has been one of the most remote parts of the Greek mainland, but the province will become far more accessible once the new road is completed.

The prefectures of Aitoloakarnania, Préveza and Lefkada are expected to be some of the main beneficiaries of the new road, which will connect the municipality of Aktio-Vonitsa, at the head of Lake Ambrakia (also known as the Ambracian Gulf), with the main North-South axis road in western Greece. The strategic importance of the new stretch of road is illustrated by the fact that it will form part of the so-called Trans-European road network connecting the region to the port of Patras and the Peloponnese to the south.

It is hoped that the project will boost commerce in the region by reducing travel times and, thus, the cost of transport. The project will involve the building of seven multi-level junctions, two same-level junctions and some 40 technical works. The increased road safety of a high-specification road is expected to reduce road accidents in the area.

Immediate job opportunities

It is calculated that 1 079 jobs will be directly created by the project during the construction of the road, which is slated to be complete by the end of 2013.

The scheme is one of the European Commission’s so-called priority projects designed to accelerate the return of growth in Greece through the investment of structural funds. In agreeing to back the investment in November 2011, one of the Commission’s main goals was to improve living conditions for the Greek people by creating immediate job opportunities. For the seven-year period 2007-2013 Greece has been allocated a total of EUR 20.4 billion in European Union cohesion policy investment.

The project is one of the Commission’s so-called “major projects”, of which total public funding is more than EUR 50 million and thus subject to a specific decision by the Commission, rather than being approved – as with other projects – at national or regional levels. For the period 2007-2013, the Commission is co-funding 12 major projects in Greece, of which the Aktio-Western North-South Axis Road is one.

Total and EU funding

The “Construction of Road Connection of the Aktio area with the Western North-South Axis” project has a total eligible budget of EUR 212 832 896, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 180 907 962 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. Greece itself will provide a national contribution of EUR 51 523 439 towards the cost of the project.

Draft date

23/01/2013