With the government’s €700 million plans to upgrade all the roads in Malta within seven years now in full swing – and the setting-up of specialised agency Infrastructure Malta to oversee the works – the island has witnessed a raft of major infrastructural projects in various localities.
Major works at the Marsa junction, the Marsa-Ħamrun bypass and others have been under way for some time, with others of varying scale set to follow in the coming weeks and months.
With the start of the scholastic year raising the usual concerns over increased traffic on the roads, The Sunday Times of Malta took a look at the major projects motorists are likely to encounter over the rest of the year.
1. Marsa Junction
The extensive €70 million Marsa Junction project includes the construction of new roads and a seven-flyover intersection, aside from new pedestrian and bicycle paths and park-and-ride facilities.
The project’s second phase, comprising works in Triq il-Marsa, the road linking Qormi to Triq Aldo Moro, is nearing completion, with the road’s southern end, at the junction by the Turkish Cemetery, closed to motorists until September 16.
The next and largest phase will see the construction of the flyovers, with a tender for the works already awarded.
The government says the project will drastically reduce travelling times, congestion and emissions by replacing the complex traffic lights system with 12 kilometres of uninterrupted lanes.
2. Marsa-Ħamrun bypass
The €5 million Marsa-Ħamrun bypass project, which began works in March, includes the rebuilding of this four-lane dual carriageway to add one new lane in each direction.
The upgrade aims to eliminate the bottleneck at the southbound exit of the Santa Venera tunnels and create safer connections between Qormi and the Mrieħel Bypass.
The project is expected to be completed around April 2019, but all six lanes of the bypass are expected to be open by the end of the year.
Works are this week also being carried out on the slip road between the bypass and Mrieħel, with closures and diversions until Friday.
3. T’Alla w Ommu Hill, Naxxar
The top part of T’Alla w Ommu in Naxxar is being widened to cater for two lanes, eliminating the bottleneck that currently restricts the southbound carriageway to a single lane.
Authorities say the bottleneck causes delays, increased accident risks and other difficulties, as road users are forced to merge into one lane before approaching the Birguma roundabout.
The works are scheduled to be completed by the end of September.
4. Tal-Balal, Naxxar and San Ġwann
Triq tal-Balal, a major thoroughfare between Naxxar, Għargħur, Iklin and San Ġwann, is undergoing works which include the building of a new, two kilometre lane from Naxxar to San Ġwann and the rebuilding of four roundabouts to introduce new bypass lanes and improved junction designs.
The project has been mired in controversy since it emerged that works began without a development permit. Works have seen large tracts of agricultural land bulldozed to make way for an additional lane, as well as demolished rubble walls and uprooted trees.
Authorities say that the road exceeded capacity years ago, causing congestion and increased emissions, and the works were urgently required to meet demand.
The works are scheduled to be completed by October.
5. Central Link, Attard
The proposed €55 million Central Link project includes a four kilometre road upgrade in the area between Mrieħel and Mosta, which authorities say will reduce travel time by half.
The extensive project, which is still awaiting planning permission and expected to take two years, includes new lanes and junctions between the Mrieħel Bypass and the Saqqajja Hill junction.
It has proved highly controversial, with the Attard local council and hundreds of residents objecting to a new bypass they say will run adjacent to their properties and split the village in two.
Concerns have also been raised over the loss of large areas of agricultural land and the uprooting of trees along the so-called Rabat Road.
6. Triq Ħal Luqa and the Santa Lucija junction
Works on Triq Ħal Luqa, the arterial road linking the Santa Lucija roundabout to Luqa and Gudja, will introduce four lanes, two in each direction, and redesign the existing T-junctions to Santa Luċija to improve safety, as well as adding a raised pedestrian and cycle track.
Preparatory works on the €4 million project have been carried out, and the works on site are expected to begin by the end of the year.
The project links to wider €20 million efforts, for which a call for offers was issued in April, to divert traffic between Tal-Barrani Road and Vjal Santa Lucija through underground tunnels to ease traffic congestion to and from Marsa during rush hour.
7. Triq Bormla, Żabbar and Żejtun
The rebuilding of Triq Bormla, known as Taċ-Ċawsli kicked off in July and includes the road being excavated to lay new distribution systems and a new road surface on reinforced foundations, as well as a segregated, two-way cycle track and footpath and new pedestrian crossings.
This €4 million project will also incorporate the existing mulberry trees (ċawsli) that the road is renowned for, as well as another 21 additional trees of the same species.
8. Triq ta’ Buqana, Mtarfa and Mosta
Works on a major upgrade of Triq Buqana, the distributor road that links Mtarfa to Mosta as well as Mgarr, are expected to start by the end of the year, introducing an additional northbound lane and a new 1.8 kilometre segregated cycle track.
The two roundabouts at the two ends of this stretch of road will also be rebuilt and realigned to increase capacity and reduce accident risks.
Authorities say the upgrade will encourage increased use of alternative transportation and reduce travelling times along the link to the northern part of the country, as well as Gozo.
9. Triq Sant’Andrija, Pembroke
Plans are in place for rebuilding the traffic artery between Manwel Dimech Bridge and the Coast Road.
Works will widen the main routes between Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq and St Julian’s, with Triq Sant’Andrija widened to four carriageways and two new roundabouts being introduced.
The works, intended to improve Triq Sant’Andrija’s ability to deal with traffic volumes, are intended to begin in the coming months and to be completed by next summer.
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