Tempi Valley was amongst the most dangerous road sections in Greece. But it’s now one of the safest highways in the country. The northern section of the A1 highway was completed 2 years ago. It connects the capital Athens to Greece’s second largest city Thessaloniki.
Three new tunnels and bridges have replaced the old national road –which traversed mountains. Many deadly accidents have occurred over the past decades with 1-2 fatal accidents taking place every year on the old road. in the same area, 21 high school students were killed in a tragic road accident in 2004.
Truck driver Athanasios Bliatsios sees the developments are positive.
"There are a lot of advantages now. The road is more safe and secure. Since the tunnels have been built and open to traffic, many of the dangers in this sector have disappeared."
Supported by the EU Cohesion Policy, the project’s completion has led to a steep decline in road accidents in the area. The new infrastructure has been integrated within the European Route E75; linking Norway to south Greece.
Due to the Greek economic crisis, construction work took six years longer than expected from 2008 to 2017. But now the new infrastructure has boosted the local economy while improving transportation.
Through 11 km of the three Tempi tunnels, a network of hi-tech surveillance cameras monitors the situation. Working closely with the traffic management centre which is operational 24 hours a day.
"Inside the tunnels, more than 400 cameras are installed every 75 metres. The system is able to detect incidents and stop vehicles, to track pedestrians, vehicles moving on the wrong side, and smoke inside the tunnel," Maria Goudi, Supervisor, Aegean Motorway Management Centre.
Traffic in the new sector is progressively increasing: with an 18% increase during the last 2 years. Around 11,000 vehicles travel through the new section every day, of which 26% are truck or buses. In the last two years, heavy vehicle traffic increased even by 29% and even for drivers, there are benefits.