The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

Ian Borg defends continued road infrastructure projects despite metro proposal

Thursday, 7 October 2021, 12:38 Last update: about 16 days ago

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg has defended the government's decision to continue embarking on road infrastructure projects now that the metro has been proposed.

Addressing a press conference in Msida, the minister said the Msida creek project is still needed in spite of the planned metro station in the locality.

The Msida Creek project was announced in 2019, proposing the introduction of two 175-metre long flyovers instead of the traffic lights junction connecting Triq Marina, Triq il-Wied tal-Imsida and Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli.

Asked why the Msida creek project is needed, given the proposed metro, Minister Borg said: "The metro project is a 20-25 year project and the people have traffic problems now. We will not repeat the PN's past mistakes that, in 2017, instead of seeing how to address the bottlenecks for the next 5-15 years and bring up a long-term metro project, they only proposed the metro, leaving the people to stagnate. We gave priority to infrastructure to ease certain bottlenecks in the country and, at the same time, we commissioned this metro study, which is there for discussion. The PN, like ADPD, came out in favour of mass transport, with the latter saying it should not all be underground, and we will also discuss that."

He said that the government needs to continue investing in order to ensure that the country has the infrastructure it deserves as well as a mass transport system.

Asked why the metro wasn't proposed earlier, he said that the government was commissioning serious studies on it back in 2017.

Responding to other questions about the Msida Creek project, he said that the project proposal is pending before the Planning Authority. "Discussions are ongoing with the local council, which is in favour of the project but has certain reservations, like the vertical lift that is a structure where people would cross."

"But in terms of the flyover to remove the traffic light system, the local council is in favour."

He said he does not know what phase the project has reached within the planning process. One such part of the project which the council has a reservation with, the minister said, was the pedestrian bridge.

Asked further about the Msida creek project, he was told that one idea was to pedestrianise the area. Asked whether this is being considered, the minister said that the IM application would see new spaces and that balance is achieved.

Msida Mayor Margaret Baldacchino Cefai said that such an idea would be good, "but I don't know how possible that would be."

"Msida is what it is. Where would we deviate traffic? Everyone would like to have everywhere pedestrianised, but we would cause Malta co come to a standstill. When we used to stop traffic for the feast, people used to say that we used to bring the country to its knees."

The minister as well as the local council mayor were in Msida announcing the refurbishment of the Msida promenade, which will expand slightly. No parking spaces will be lost and the boats that anchor in the area will keep their same spots.

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