The Egnatia motorway (Greek Εγνατία Οδός), often translated as Via Egnatia, code: A2) is the Greek part of the E90 European route. It is a motorway in Greece that extends from the western port of Igoumenitsa to the eastern Greek-Turkish border at Kipoi. It runs a total of 670km (416mi). The project began in the 1990s and completed in 2009.
The route traverses the mountainous Greek regions of Epirus and Macedonia, crossing the Pindos and Vermio mountains, which have posed formidable engineering challenges. Its full length includes 76 tunnels (with a combined length of 99 km / 61.5 miles) and 1,650 bridges. It is a closed highway with sophisticated electronic surveillance measures, SCADA controls for the lighting/tunnel ventilation and advanced vehicle collision absorption measures.
- Stretching: From the port of Igoumenitsa, Thesprotia to the border crossing of Kipoi, on the River Evros
- Total length: 670 kilometres
- Serving the Regions: Thesprotia - Ioannina - Grevena - Kozani - Imathia - Thessaloniki - Kavala - Xanthi - Rodope - Evros.
- Linked with nine major vertical axes connecting to the neighbouring countries in the north (Albania, FYROM, Bulgaria, Turkey).
- Passing through the towns of: Igoumenitsa - Ioannina - Metsovo - Grevena - Kozani - Veria - Thessaloniki - Kavala - Xanthi - Komotini – Alexandroupolis
- Linked to the Ports of: Igoumenitsa - Thessaloniki - Kavala – Alexandroupolis
- Linked to the Airports of: Ioannina - Kastoria - Kozani - Thessaloniki - Kavala – Alexandroupolis
- Technical characteristics: Two traffic lanes per direction, a central reserve and an emergency lane on the right.
- The area served accounts for:
- 36% of the country's total population
- 33% of its total gross national product
- In the primary sector, 54% of total farmland and 65% of total irrigated land
- In the secondary sector, 41% of total industrial employment, and
- 51% of total mining activity.
Part of its length, a section of about 360 km (223 miles) from the Evros River to Thessaloniki, parallels the ancient Roman Via Egnatia, which ran from Dyrrachio in Albania to Thessaloniki and thence to Byzantium (Istanbul). The project has therefore been dubbed a modern Via Egnatia (in Greek, Egnatia Odos / Εγνατία Οδός). However, the parallel is not exact; the original Via Egnatia was much longer (1,120 km / 696 miles) and its western section, from Thessaloniki to the Adriatic Sea, ran much further north than the modern road.
The project has raised concerns for the survival of nearby sites of ecological and archaeological significance. The construction of the Pindos stretch (i.e. from Grevena to Ioannina) was delayed due to environmental concerns about the destruction of the habitat of the endangered brown bear. However, a new routing was proposed in 2003, and now this part is complete as of April 2009.
In addition to the main highway, three perpendicular auxiliary highways are under construction connecting the highway to important cities, ports and airports of Macedonia.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be about 5.9 billion euros by the time of its completion in 2009, making it probably the most ambitious and expensive public project ever to have taken place in modern Greece. It is a key route in the trans-European road network and forms part of European route E90.
- The official website, with information on current progress and more. (English version)