Works on the Thessaloniki metro are proceeding full speed ahead, the Greek culture and infrastructure ministries announced, adding that the priority was to safeguard antiquities during the construction of the project.
In this direction, the culture ministry announced the creation of a working group made up of officials from Attiko Metro, the municipality and the Archaeological Ephorate of Thessaloniki, that will monitor works as well as proceed with excavations expected to bring to the fore important Byzantine era finds. The body will be supervised on a weekly basis by the ministry’s general secretary, Maria Andreadaki Vlazaki.
Meanwhile, the president of Attiko Metro Yiannis Milopoulos reiterated that he expects the Thessaloniki metro to be operational by the end of 2020, adding that the thorny issue of “ancient artifacts vs metro is now behind us”. The stations, he said, will operate as both exhibition spaces and protection for the archaeological finds uncovered in the process of construction.
“The culture ministry is giving priority and particular attention to the work carried out for the completion of the Thessaloniki metro, aiming to safeguard and showcase antiquities as has been the practice with all road projects to date – directly linked to meeting the citizens’ needs and ensuring sustainable development,” the ministry said in a statement.
Construction of the Thessaloniki metro has repeatedly come to a halt due to legal wrangling between the state and the construction consortium as well as to the issue of archaeological finds uncovered during construction, impacting in the meantime dozens of businesses along its main routes. The project was tendered in 2006 with a tentative completion date set for 2012 and a possible extension of two years.