Greece will temporarily reopen the Corinth Canal for three months on Monday, July 4th to accommodate summer maritime traffic, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday.
The premier was speaking after his crossing of the canal to inspect the progress of restoration efforts that began after large-scale landslides occurred in November 2020 and again in January and February 2021.
“There has been no substantial intervention at Corinth Canal over the last 130 years,” he noted, and he pointed out that it will close again in early October to allow for the second stage of restoration on the canal.
In the summer of 2023, he added, the canal will reopen for four months, and the project will be completed in 2023, including the restored section.
At a budget of 32 million euros, noted government officials, there are two stages to the restoration project. The first involves the slope relief work and the cleaning of the canal by July of this year while the second stage pertains to harbor work to stabilize the base of the slopes, which will begin in autumn 2022.
“We intervened at the right time, and finished the studies in record time, for a challenging project,” Deputy Infrastructure Minister Giorgos Karagiannis said, briefing the prime minister along with Aktor construction company’s managing director, Christos Panagiotopoulos.
The Corinth Canal is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in the entire nation, and its long closure has been disastrous for transport and tourism in the country.
The landslides were particularly destructive, as massive boulders from the side of the Peloponnese fell into the canal.
The history of the Corinth canal
Opened on July 25, 1893, the Corinth Canal is one of the most important infrastructure projects of the modern Greek State, instantly changing all major maritime activity in the country.
Construction started in 1882, and the canal was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Sotirios Sotiropoulos. Yet, it was completed by his predecessor Charilaos Trikoupis whose term had ended only two months prior to that date.
Before the canal was built, ships from the Ionian Sea headed to Athens or the Aegean islands had to go around the Peloponnese peninsula and vice versa.
After 1893, cargo and passenger ships would only have to cross the Isthmus of Corinth and reach their destination much more quickly.