Roads agency Infrastructure Malta has come in for another hammering over its work methods, with the president of the Chamber of Architects accusing it of “outrageous” breaches in its plans to build flyovers in Msida.

The agency is steaming ahead with its plans to do away with traffic lights at Msida junction and replace them with two flyovers, in what it has dubbed the ‘Msida Creek’ project. On Tuesday, Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said seven local and foreign consortia had submitted bids to run the project, with bids coming in at an average of €13.5 million. 

Borg described the project as “an important one” and said that it would lead to speedier and and “more sustainable” travel. But Pizzuto, who assumed the Chamber of Architects’ top post earlier this month, sees things differently.

“Outrageous,” he wrote on Facebook in reaction to the news.

Pizzuto noted that Infrastructure Malta had issued a call for tender for the project “before the planning application has even started being processed and the EIA completed, let alone being submitted for statutory public consultation.”

Infrastructure Malta issued a call for tender for the project in September, saying the project would also include two pedestrian bridges, 100 parking spots and upgrades to other roads in the area.

The roads agency has a track record of advancing projects prior to Planning Authority approval, drawing criticism from farmers, activists, the courts and even high-profile Labour Party figures such as Marie-Louise Coleiro and Alfred Sant, who said this week that Infrastructure Malta must become “far more accountable and transparent”.

'Mutilation'

Pizzuto said the agency’s Msida Creek plans also make no sense from an urban planning perspective.

Instead of building flyovers in the heart of Msida and along a traditional coastal town, authorities should be diverting traffic away from it, he said.

“This is forcing Msida residents to suffer the environmental costs of economic benefits generated in other towns, like Valletta or St Julian’s,” he told Times of Malta.

Multiple studies conducted over the past 20 years have found higher incidences of respiratory conditions among residents of harbour area towns, such as Msida.

The problem, as Pizzuto sees it, is that authorities are framing their challenges incorrectly.

“They see this as a road engineering problem, so their solutions are road engineering ones. But this is an urban planning problem, and the solutions to be found are there."

He argued that diverting traffic away from the area and instead upgrading road infrastructure on the periphery of urban areas, such as Regional Road, would be a smarter solution to the problem.

“The entire Msida junction area could be turned into a park if the connection between the junction and Msida skate park is closed off to private cars,” he said.

“Can you imagine Ischia, Croatia or a Balearic Island mutilating one of its traditional fishing ports?”

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