The Malta Independent 23 October 2018, Tuesday

€17 million investment in road infrastructure during summer - Minister Borg

Friday, 12 October 2018, 14:04 Last update: about 11 days ago

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg presented details on the €17 million investment that was implemented on road infrastructure during the summer months.

Minister Borg explained that as a result of an investment of just over €17 million in road upgrades in summer 2018, by September 2018 the country had already benefitted from 17.4 kilometres of new or rebuilt lanes and 18 upgraded junctions with added road safety measures, reduced travel times and improved air quality in nearby residential areas.

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This work was carried out during summer by the new roads agency Infrastructure Malta which took advantage of the seasonal drop in transport demand to improve the capacity, efficiency and safety of some of the country’s busiest routes. Between July and September, the newly formed agency optimised the resources allocated for the planning and implementation of new and ongoing infrastructural projects to push forward the introduction of several road network improvements.

Borg explained that a substantial share of this investment was directed at improving the main gateway to the southern part of Malta, with three projects targeting the arterial road corridor between the Santa Venera tunnels and Triq Aldo Moro in Marsa. Two of these projects, the rebuilding of Triq Aldo Moro as part of the second phase of the Marsa Junction Project and the widening of the Marsa-Ħamrun Bypass, started before summer and were scheduled to be completed later this year and next year respectively. The third one, including the upgrading of the stretch of arterial roads linking the Marsa-Ħamrun Bypass to Triq Diċembru 13 and Triq Aldo Moro, was launched in the beginning of summer.

“With the pace that was kept to deliver these projects, working day and night during certain periods, Infrastructure Malta was able to finalise a substantial number of projects,” noted Minister Borg. 

The six lanes of the Marsa-Ħamrun Bypass, which were opened to road users by the end of summer, are reducing travel times along this route by up to 42%. The last three of the 10 lanes in Triq Aldo Moro will be completed in the coming weeks, before Infrastructure Malta starts the building of the Marsa Junction Project’s seven flyovers to eliminate the Addolorata Cemetery traffic lights and continue reducing travel times and congestion pollution in this critical node.      

During summer, Infrastructure Malta also upgraded the two main roundabouts at Żebbuġ. These junctions were reconstructed with a new design to reduce travel times, improve access to this locality’s residents and increase road safety. The Mosta Technopark roundabout was also modified to improve the bypass lane facilitating journeys from Lija to Mosta, and to relocate an existing pedestrian crossing to a safer location. Meanwhile, at T’Alla u Ommu Hill, a bottleneck which had been slowing down road users travelling from Burmarrad to Birguma, Naxxar and Mosta for years, was eliminated with the construction of a second southbound lane.

At Triq tal-Barrani, the agency also improved the efficiency of the signal-controlled T-junction linking it to Triq Ħal Tarxien, towards Gudja and Għaxaq, by adding a new bypass lane and optimising traffic light operation. Through another project, road users travelling from Ta’ Qali towards Rabat or Żebbuġ can now use a new, safer exit from a rebuilt road at the Tal-Ħemsija area, rather than crossing oncoming traffic at the Mdina Road junction.  

Another major improvement in the southern part of Malta is the introduction of a third lane and a new cycle lane in the northbound carriageway of Vjal l-Avjazzjoni, between Gudja and Luqa. The new lane links up with the Airport roundabout bypass lane built last year, allowing road users to travel from the Kirkop tunnels towards Luqa without crossing the roundabout or merging into other lanes. This improvement has led to a 73.3% travel time improvement for thousands of road users travelling from Safi, Kirkop, Mqabba, Qrendi and Żurrieq through the Kirkop tunnels, towards Luqa, Qormi and Valletta, every morning.

Minister Borg said “The work does not stop here however. As these projects are concluded, work on other projects in different localities is proceeding. These include the widening of Triq tal-Balal between Naxxar and San Ġwann and the reconstruction of Triq Bormla (Taċ-Ċawsli) linking Żabbar and Żejtun, and the finalisation of plans for other important projects starting in the coming months, including the rebuilding of Triq Ħal Luqa between Gudja and Santa Luċija, the upgrading of Triq Ħal Qormi between Luqa and Qormi, the widening of Triq ta’ Buqana between Mtarfa and Mosta, the construction of two new tunnels beneath the Santa Luċija roundabout and the Central Link Project, extending from the Mrieħel Bypass, through Birkirkara, Balzan and Attard towards Ta’ Qali. The agency is also finalising proposals for the upgrading of Triq Sant Andrija between Swieqi, Pembroke and Paceville and of several junctions along this road.”

“Neither must we forget the first batch of 120 residential roads that were announced earlier this month. There was never any doubt that we would be living up to the €700 million commitment to improve the quality of residential roads in all localities in the coming years and in fact the first works as part of this unprecedented road rebuilding investment will start in January 2019,” noted Minister Borg.

The Minister explained that the adoption of new methodologies, new ways of thinking and planning have allowed the work to continue at a steady pace. “From the drafting of the legislation that would set up Infrastructure Malta, the intention was always to look at better ways of how we do things. Even today, now that the agency is fully functioning, we are looking at several improvements. Infrastructure Malta evaluates the road network regularly in order to cater for current needs but also for future needs. Road infrastructure is dynamic and with this in mind, we must cater for this dynamicity so that we can always maximise investments,” outlined Minister Borg.

The Minister also noted that the investment in roads is not the only way that the Government is tackling the challenges of congestion and traffic. Several initiatives were launched during this last year to allow for a modal shift from the car to alternative and cleaner means of transport so that where possible, car users may have incentives to make this move. The government has also improved considerably, together with the operator, the bus and ferry service, with new positive numbers being registered. Additionally, the free transport initiative for youths between 16 and 20 years of age has given positive results.

“Our work will continue, both on road infrastructure and on other initiatives. As I have highlighted several times, the Government’s plan comprises short-, medium- and long-term solutions. Our determination is to plan, work and deliver in favour of more positive and important results for the benefit of Malta and Gozo,” concluded Minister Ian Borg.

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