The Malta Independent 28 September 2020, Monday

Virus outbreak among Marsa Junction workers developed ‘at a critical point of the project’

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 17 September 2020, 08:51 Last update: about 11 days ago

The news that a number of Marsa Junction Project workers tested positive for COVID-19 came ‘at a critical point’ in the project’s implementation, days before three flyovers were meant to open, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Malta told The Malta Independent.

The spokesperson, responding to questions by this newsroom, confirmed that works on the project stopped after 8 September, when the agency issued a statement that 21 people working on the project tested positive. The spokesperson stressed that the agency provided all the required information to the health authorities and supported the project contractor to take additional measures to protect its personnel.

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“All workers who could have been in contact with the ones who tested positive for the virus were asked to self-isolate and encouraged to seek further advice from the government’s COVID-19 support services, as necessary. All works on site were stopped, as recommended by the health authorities,” the spokesperson said.

The agency said that these measures helped to ensure that the spread of the virus was contained. “While the 21 workers who contracted the virus last week selfisolated and started receiving the required treatment, subsequent testing of other project workers, who are also in self-isolation, resulted negative. The workers will be retested in the coming days, so that the health authorities can confirm whether they can resume works on site next week.”

“Unfortunately, this situation developed at a critical point in the implementation of the Marsa junction project, days before Infrastructure Malta was planning to open another three of this investment’s seven flyovers. As soon

as the health authorities confirm that works on site can resume, the contractor will need up to 15 days to open the new flyovers, weather permitting.”

The agency’s projects implementation team is reviewing and reorganising this phase of the project, the spokesperson said, “to ensure that when the contractor’s workers return on site, they carry out the last works on these three flyovers in the shortest time possible, to limit the impact of this delay as much as possible.” The agency was also asked whether, given the start of the rainy season, more delays can be expected not only on the Marsa junction project, but also on other roadwork projects around the island.

The agency said that while rainfall can lead to the postponement or reorganisation of certain stages of the Marsa Junction Project and other road works by a few days, especially when laying road foundations and overlying asphalt surfaces, “such situations are normally foreseeable and factored in project timelines in advance, so that they do not have significant impacts on deadlines.”

The new flyover structures that will be opened in the coming weeks include uninterrupted, southbound connections from Aldo Moro Road, Marsa, to Giuseppe Garibaldi Road, Luqa, and to Santa Luċija Avenue, towards Santa Luċija and Tal-Barrani Road, Tarxien, the spokesperson said. “The Santa Luċija Avenue’s southbound carriageway, which was closed a few months ago, will once again be available to road users.” The spokesperson explained that they are working to remove the bottleneck of the existing diversion lanes between Aldo Moro Road and Garibaldi Road, facilitating journeys to Luqa, Gudja, the Airport and the Kirkop Tunnels.

“The three flyover structures completed last year, which are temporarily being used in contraflow in the same direction as the three new ones, will subsequently be closed for a few weeks for final asphalt laying and for the installation of expansion joints, so that they can be reopened in the northbound direction.”

The spokesperson said that when the northbound flyovers are reopened, Infrastructure Malta will also open the seventh flyover structure, which was completed last month. It will link the northbound carriageway of Santa Luċija Avenue, currently closed, to the Addolorata Cemetery, to a new park and ride area forming part of the same project and to Il-Gvern Lokali Road, towards Qormi (Turkish Cemetery area).”

The spokesperson said that the Santa Luċija Avenue was closed earlier this year due to the construction of the new Santa Luċija Roundabout Underpass. “Infrastructure Malta will reopen this road’s newly-rebuilt southbound carriageway along with the three new Marsa flyovers in the coming weeks. It is planning to reopen the northbound carriageway, also rebuilt as part of the same two projects, a few weeks later.”

Beneath the flyovers, Infrastructure Malta is building other new roads that will form part of the same multi-level intersection, including northbound and southbound lanes between Sir Paul Boffa Avenue’s northbound carriageway and Aldo Moro Road, the spokesperson added. “The project will also include lanes leading to two new park and ride areas, to the Addolorata Cemetery, to nearby industrial zones and to other areas.”

The spokesperson added that Infrastructure Malta is building two underground reservoirs to harvest 1.5 million litres of rainwater for the irrigation of new green areas. Stormwater pipelines will also be constructed.

The Marsa Junction Project is cofinanced through the European Union’s Cohesion Fund and the Connecting Europe Facility.

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