A pre-qualification questionnaire for the award of a concession for the design, build, finance and operation of the proposed Malta-Gozo tunnel project has been issued and interested parties have until April 9 to file their submissions.

Issued by state agency Infrastructure Malta, the document outlines the minimum requirements of the proposed tunnel, which will have to cater for 9,000 vehicles per day, of which 5% will be heavy vehicles. Access to pedestrians and bicycles will be forbidden.

Spanning over 14 kilometers, the structure shall have two separate lanes in either direction each measuring 3.5 metres in width, with a minimum headroom of five metres, with a 1.5 metre buffer zone in the middle. Moreover, there will be a series of lay-bys at 500-metre intervals on both carriageways and there will be a 70 km/h speed limit. The tunnels must have a lifetime of at least 120 years.

The questionnaire also specifies that the maximum ‘out of operation’ time of the tunnel for repairs and maintenance must not exceed 200 hours per year, while it will be in operation on a 24-hour basis.

As for the route itself, the document noted that the area between St Paul’s Bay and Ċirkewwa is to be avoided as it is already prone to traffic. This restriction is in line with the preliminary plans, which earmarked the tunnel portals to be located in the quiet hamlet of l-Imbordin in the Pwales Valley at St Paul’s Bay and on the outskirts of Nadur in Gozo.

Regarding the disposal of the huge amounts of rock to be excavated, the document states that such responsibility shall be shouldered by the government.

No further details were given as to where this material will be transported, or if it will be used for a land reclamation project elsewhere.

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