Levels of a pollutant dust around Gżira primary school exceeded the EU limit 224 times, according to a report released yesterday.

Data revealed that nearby residents also suffered as air monitoring figures from a private home in Gżira showed the limit was exceeded by 241 times, while a residence in Sliema Road was 112 times above the EU limit.

EU air quality regulations allow for pollution benchmarks of particulate matter (a dangerous fine dust that remains trapped in the lungs) to be exceeded only 35 times a year.

The data was listed in a report commissioned by Transport Malta to look into the environmental impacts of a development application to upgrade the roundabout junction, which is in the centre of Regional Road and Sliema Road.

The air around the school is constantly polluted by the heavy traffic driving towards the Kappara roundabout.

Figures provided by Transport Malta reveal that an estimated 29,000 cars use Mikiel Anton Vassalli road, also known as Regional Road, to reach the roundabout.

Two options were presented in the application submitted to the planning authority. One option includes a second roundabout with an overpass and slip roads to allow traffic interchange between Sliema Road and Mikiel Anton Vassalli Road.

The second option eliminates the roundabout and replaces it with a free flow route along Mikiel Anton Vassalli Road. There will be a traffic interchange between Sliema Road and Mikiel Anton Vassalli Road with a roundabout, signalised junction, bridge and a number of slip roads.

The aim of the project, estimated to take around two years, is to improve safety, increase capacity, reduce delays and queues while minimising particulate emissions.

The report, drawn up by Adi Associates, said the junction was one of the major bottlenecks within the Maltese arterial network.

The footprint of both options is more extensive than the existing layout with the first one taking up around 3.6 hectares while the second option is around 3.7 hectares.

Solving the Kappara junction problem, a bottleneck and the cause of frustration for motorists, dates back to the early 1990s and included several failed attempts. Several years ago, traffic lights were installed on the roundabout, before the authorities realised it had actually exacerbated the problem.

Public consultation on the project will take place at the University’s engineering lecture theatre on Friday at 4 p.m.

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