EGNATIA ODOSwith the aim of constructing major infrastructure projects for the benefit of  the affected area’s development, deeply respecting the environment, the citizens’ and the country’s wellbeing, has worked like only a few European bodies have done so far, substantially contributing to the scientific research for big mammals. During these particularly difficult times and adverse financial situation, the company puts every possible effort in ensuring the necessary resources-credits, in order to take the necessary protection measures, required both for the road users and fauna (bears).

The measures taken by Egnatia Odos AE for the protection of bears, during the design, implementation and operation of the project are the following:

1.           Project’s design:

–   The alignment of section “Panagia- Grevena- was amended, as a result of the measures taken for the protection of bears. Major bridges and tunnels were added, along with special fauna wild passages and a green bridge, which resulted in a substantial increase in the project’s cost.

–   Egnatia Odos AE has prepared, assigned and financed a monitoring programme for the effects of the construction of section “Panagia- Grevena” on the brown bear population, in cooperation with NGO and Universities. The project involved among others the use of special collars on bears and wolves, so as to confirm the corridors used by the animals’ population.

–   The alignment of section “Koromilia- Krystallopigi” of Vertical Axis 45 “Siatista- Krystallopigi” was amended, with the use of additional artificial passages for the fauna (tunnels, fauna passages) and a reinforced high fencing.

–   A programme for the monitoring of the impacts of section “Kalambaka- Grevena” of axis Ε-65 on big mammals (bears) was studied, with the cooperation of NGO.

2.           Project’s construction:

–   A programme was studied to monitor the impacts of the construction of section “Panagia- Grevena” and “Metsovo- Panagia” on big mammals, with the cooperation of NGO, with the aim of ensuring the fauna passages’ appropriateness.

3.           Project’s operation:

–   Reinforced fencing has been placed along the major part of section “Panagia- Grevena”, to prevent big animals from entering the highway, in order to eliminate traffic accidents.

–   A permanent electronic informative sign has been placed, marking the bears’ habitat at section “Panagia- Grevena”.

–   A reinforced high fencing was placed at section “Siatista- Koromilia” of Vertical Axis 45, as a result of various traffic accidents involving bears, even though the area had not been previously characterized as a brown bear habitat by NGO. The contract will be completed within 2013, involving also parts of the project from Panagia to Siatista.

–   As a short term measure, leaflets have been periodically distributed at Polymylos and Malakasi Toll Stations to the drivers passing from the area in question, warning them about the brown bears and advising them to reduce their speed, while crossing these areas.

–   Another short term measure was the installation of informative signs at section “Siatista- Koromilia”, with the aim of informing the drivers about the possibility of encountering bears, in order to reduce speed at sections where such a possibility is common.

Generally and according to the records of the respective NGO involved, there has been an increase in the population of bears, as  the result of the construction of the Egnatia Motorway. It should be pointed out that according to the records of the respective NGO, there has been an increase in the presence of big mammals in areas previously non- inhabited by them, as is the case of Central Greece.

Finally, we need to point out that the construction of the Egnatia Motorway and Vertical Axes, apart from entailing a major positive impact on the development, as well as the economic and social factors, which is the direct effect of the motorway’s absorption of the major part of the inter-urban traffic of Northern Greece, has considerably enhanced the road safety.

The drivers- road users should always pay particular attention and reduce the speed limit,while crossing the brown bear areas, as well as the surrounding areas of West Macedonia, so that the possibility of encountering any unfortunate incidents is minimized.

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