Construction of the 11km-long four-lane highway between Astromeritis and Evrychou is to begin as soon as possible, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos announced on Thursday.

At a cost of €88.6m, the project, which is expected to be completed within three years includes a large bridge over the Elia river in Vyzakia. The existing Astromeritis-Evrychou road will remain in operation.

Hailing the project, Karousos said that it will improve road safety, significantly reduce travel times and is a step forward in the overall strategy for improving the quality of life for the mountainous communities – linking them with the cities.

“This is a long-awaited project, which for decades the local authorities and community has been waiting on for decades,” Karousos said.

“It will contribute greatly to the implementation of the national strategy for mountainous areas,” he added.

He explained that the government declared the project as significantly in favour of the public interest – meaning that it could proceed without hinderance.

The highway will start from a point of the existing Astromeritis to Evrychou road, south of Astromeritis, after the junction to the community of Vyzakia. It will end at the junction of the existing road.

The project includes a flyover roundabout in the Koutrafas area, as well as two overpasses and two ground level vehicle crossings to connect the areas on both sides and the existing road. It also includes a large valley bridge of about 700 m on the river of Elia (Vyzakia).