The Malta Independent 25 March 2019, Monday

Infrastructure Malta plays down geologist’s tunnel concerns: extensive studies being carried out

Albert Galea Monday, 26 November 2018, 10:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

Infrastructure Malta have played down the concerns of geologist Peter Gatt on the Gozo Tunnel project, saying that extensive studies were being carried out by a team of Maltese and international experts.

Peter Gatt, speaking to The Malta Independent last week, had raised concerns about the “problematic geology between Malta and Gozo” and said that if certain matters are not taken seriously enough, the project may “cost lives” in its construction phase.

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This problematic geology is, according to Gatt, based around faults – where the vertical displacement could be more than 100 metres – and gaps in the stratigraphy of the area, stratigraphy being the branch of geology concerned with the study of rock layers (strata) and layering (stratification).

Asked by The Malta Independent about Gatt’s concerns and whether the geological studies carried out on the area had identified any such problems, Infrastructure Malta said that the team of Maltese and international experts conducting the necessary are “fully aware of the geological characteristics of the rock formation in the area where the tunnel will be excavated”.  They said that such factors have been encountered and dealt with in hundreds of tunneling projects worldwide.

Infrastructure Malta detailed the work of these studies, saying that a review of existing data as well as drilling of deep cores had occurred so to obtain and investigate all the technical data required.  Furthermore, the agency said that the studies were being used to determine the safest and most sustainable designs, technologies and implementation processes for the project, and did not exclude that currently ongoing studies may deem fit to carry out more investigations during the excavation phase.

Asked by this newsroom about how the safety of workers constructing the tunnel and of passengers and drivers utilizing the tunnel after completion was going to be ensured, Infrastructure Malta said that there are various “tried and tested” measures which can be adopted to deal with different situations encountered during the development of such tunnels.

The agency said that the technologies for such measures are well-known in the industry especially by contractors with considerable experience when it comes to tunnel excavation and operation. 

They said that ensuring the safety of anyone involved in the bridge during construction and after completion was integral, and Infrastructure Malta said that once the call for offers for the services required to design, build, maintain and operate the Malta-Gozo tunnel in 2019, prospective bidders will have to confirm their health and safety track records.  Any contractor failing to do so or does not have the necessary expertise, technologies and experience to ensure safety at all stages of the project would not be considered at all, the agency said.

Furthermore, they said that they had also issued a call for offers for the contracting of project management, architectural, construction, engineering and inspection services so to ensure that there is more expertise available for the project at all times.

Infrastructure Malta said that it is committed to the successful and sustainable implementation of the Malta-Gozo tunnel project, and to establishing the long-awaited permanent link between these two islands and to opening up many new social and economic opportunities for families in Gozo.

 

 

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