The Malta Independent 8 December 2019, Sunday

Updated (2): There will be 300 more trees after the Santa Lucija tunnel project is completed - IM

Wednesday, 31 July 2019, 10:52 Last update: about 5 months ago

The number of trees that will be planted near the tunnel to be constructed underneath the Santa Lucija roundabout will be 300 more than the number there is at present, Infrastructure Malta said.

It was reacting to media reports that some 300 trees will be axed to make way for the project, which is aimed to provide a better flow of traffic from the Marsa multi-junction area to the south of Malta via Tal-Barrani road, easing the congestion at the roundabout leading to Santa Lucija.

Photos of decimated trees are also being shared on Facebook, and added to public outrage following plans to cut 500 trees to make way for the Central Link project in the limits of Attard.

In a statement, Infrastructure Malta said that the number of trees on the route in question will be 300 more than there are now.

Infrastructure Malta said it is starting the construction of the Santa Lucija Tunnels project, a €20 million investment to continue improving the safety and efficiency of the principal route to several localities in the southern part of Malta.

 

This project, which was approved by the Planning Authority in September 2018, includes the excavation and construction of two tunnels beneath the Santa Lucija roundabout, to directly connect Santa Lucija Avenue (Addolorata Hill) with Tal-Barrani Road. Above the tunnels, the existing roundabout will be rebuilt in a new design that facilitates safer and quicker access to the residents of Santa Lucija, Paola and Tarxien. The project also includes the redesign and reconstruction of a nearby jogging track, the upgrading of the Tal-Barrani Road pedestrian subway to be also accessible to cyclists and to persons with disability, as well as a new cycle track connecting Santa Lucija to Marsa.

The two new two-lane, cut-and-cover tunnels will extend 90 metres beneath the existing roundabout, to connect the two carriageways of Santa Lucija Avenue with Tal-Barrani Road. Two approach ramps, extending over 130 metres each, will link the tunnel to the two roads. The new roundabout above the tunnel will prioritise safer access to Santa Lucija, Paola and Tarxien. It will also be connected to Santa Lucija Avenue and Tal-Barrani Road through four new slip roads.

Works on site started a few days ago with the excavations for the foundations of the new slip roads as well as the reconstruction of the jogging track. The site of the existing jogging track needs to be excavated to build part of a 1.1 km twin walk-through underground culvert, which will extend from Tal-Barrani Road to reach another similar underground tunnel network being built beneath the new flyovers of the Marsa Junction Project. These tunnels will accommodate one of the country’s principal 132kV high voltage electricity network connections, linking the Delimara Power Station with the distribution centre at the site of the former Marsa Power Station.

Besides the new culverts for the replacement and reinforcement of these high voltage cables, along the same route Infrastructure Malta is also replacing a major underground potable water distribution pipeline. It is also laying several kilometres of underground cable ducts for Internet services, traffic management ICT systems and other telecommunication networks. A new rainwater reservoir and 2.7 kilometres of storm water pipes are also included in this project.

The existing Tal-Barrani Road pedestrian underpass (subway) connecting Tarxien and Santa Lucija will be refurbished and upgraded with new ramps, to be accessible to all. At the same time, the underpass will also be directly linked to the new jogging track, so that it can be safely reached by Tarxien residents as well. The new jogging track is being built in consultation with the Santa Lucija Local Council.

The new cycle track, almost a kilometre long, will form part of a longer safe cycle route connecting Luqa, Santa Lucija, Tarxien, Paola and Marsa. The first stretch of this cycle track is currently being developed as part of the reconstruction of Luqa Road, next to Santa Lucija’s Garden of Serenity. Through the Santa Lucija tunnels project, Infrastructure Malta will extend this cycle track down the northbound carriageway of Santa Lucija Avenue, until it reaches Marsa, where other cycling facilities are being developed through the Marsa Junction Project.

Infrastructure Malta is coordinating the implementation of the Santa Lucija tunnels project with several other major road projects in this region. The reconstruction of Luqa Road, which leads to the Santa Lucija roundabout, is now nearing completion. This new road will serve as an important alternative route whilst the tunnels are being built. At the same time, the project works in Santa Lucija Avenue are being planned in conjunction with the construction of the seven flyovers of the Marsa Junction Project, one of which will connect this road to Aldo Moro Road. All works are being implemented in phases, to minimise difficulties to road users, as well as to nearby residents, businesses and other workplaces.

All excavation works are being carried out under the supervision of archaeologists approved by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, to ensure that if any historical remains are unearthed, they are adequately studied and preserved.

Infrastructure Malta is also working with the Environmental and Resources Authority to minimise any ecological impacts. Before works started, the agency obtained the necessary nature permits to uproot 295 trees that need to be removed to build the tunnels and the new slip roads. Under the guidance of experienced arborists, another 254 trees are being prepared to be transplanted to other nearby areas, including the new jogging track. The new areas where the trees are being transplanted, mostly in Santa Lucija, were approved by the Authority as well. Along the project route and in other localities in this region, Infrastructure Malta is planting 757 new indigenous trees so that once the project is ready, this area will have 300 more trees than there are now.

As an additional environmental contribution, through this project Infrastructure Malta is also planting another 1,257 trees at the Majjistral Park, Mellieha, at the Maghtab Park and Naxxar.

ERA statement

All works involving trees as part of the Vjal Santa Luċija and Tarxien project will be taking place under the Environment Resources Authority, the ERA said in a statement. 1,011 trees will be planted (757) or transplanted (254) within the same area, which includes Paola, Santa Luċija, Għaxaq, Tarxien, Marsa, Zejtun, Marsascala, Luqa and Zabbar.  When the project is completed, there will be approximately 300 new trees in the same area than there is at present, ERA said, confirming the statement made by Infrastructure Malta.

This will compensate for 293 trees that will be uprooted as part of the plan for a road project that will divert traffic between Tal-Barrani Road and Vjal Santa Luċija through underground tunnels.

Additionally, 1,257 trees will be planted in Magħtab/Għadira s-Safra and Majjistral Park, ERA said.

The transplanted Olea europaea, Ficus microcarpa and Morus alba specimens have to be maintained by the permit holder for a period of three years from planting. Evidence of transplanting must be submitted to ERA within one month of planting.

Should any of the transplanted trees die within this period specified above, the permit holder must replace the trees within the first planting season with trees of the same species.The permit holder must regularly inspect the transplanted tree to administer necessary care and monitor recovery.

 

Compensatory planting must be carried out within the first planting season following issue of the permit and evidence of compensatory planting must be submitted within one month of planting. The trees must be maintained by the permit holder for a period of three years from planting. In this case too, should any of the compensatory trees die within the period specified above, the permit holder is bound to replace the trees within the first planting season with trees of the same species and size. 

 

 

 

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