A bridge linking Malta and Gozo will cost some €1 billion (including taxes) and take four years to complete, according to a feasibility study by China Communications Construction Company.
The study is proposing to complete the project by 2020 with a design life of 100 years.
It presents the government with four alternative routes with just one cutting across Comino. The company is recommending Option D, which has a length of 8.8km with a traffic capacity of a single two-lane carriageway and two motorcycle lanes.
In this option the alignment begins at the southeast of Gozo, crosses the channel off the east of Comino, where the water depth is shallow, lands at the north tip of Malta and then connects to Marfa Road via local roads.
In this option there will be no encroachment on Comino, the water is relatively shallow (deepest 29m); it is far from the ferry route and the seaplane landing areas; the construction cost is relatively low; and it has superior aesthetics.
The disadvantages are that the navigation channel is skewed to the bridge; a larger navigation span is required; its alignment passes the marine protection zone; and it slightly encroaches on the submerged pipelines area.
The study lists several investment models. The first is for the government to foot the bill and for CCCC to undertake the project design and construction.
Another option is for CCCC to finance and construct the bridge with the government liable for the total cost “together with a reasonable return”. The third option is for CCCC to finance the entire project and collect tolls from road users.
A contentious proposal if the government cannot afford to fund the bridge’s repurchase or compensation is to to pay CCCC by giving it “land of equivalent value” – for primary or secondary development.