Work on the rebuilding of the Mellieħa bypass from scratch—in a wider effort towards the introduction of several measures for a lower risk of accidents—has begun and is expected to be completed by the beginning of this summer.
The rebuilding of Triq Louis Wettinger, or as it is better known the Mellieħa bypass, is being done following an intervention by the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, which asked Transport Malta’s Roads and Infrastructure Directorate to redesign the bypass from scratch so that it can become safer without being narrowed, as was originally planned.
Thanks to this investment of around €2 million, safety for all users of this road will be further ensured by means new crash barriers on the outer edges of the carriageway and a new central strip with crash barriers dividing the lanes in opposite directions. Simultaneously, the entire road—which has to date never had lights installed—will also have a new system of lamps installed on poles.
Apart from the four lanes for cars, with two in each direction, this bypass will also feature a 1.4-kilometre-long cycle lane. Finally, this project also includes the redesign of some of the junctions connecting this road to others which open up into it, such as the Miżieb road and other roads which lead to residential zones in Mellieħa.
The original plans for the redesign of the Mellieħa bypass, designed years ago, included the removal of one of the four bypass lanes as a safety measure. In fact, other parts of this bypass, as well as other parts of the route between Mellieħa and Ċirkewwa, had already been reduced to three or two lanes in past years when they were rebuilt as part of a project financed by the European Union.
A few weeks ago, the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects asked Transport Malta to reconsider the original plans for the rebuilding of the bypass with the aim of retaining the road’s four lanes. After said plans were revised, the authority’s architects confirmed that the bypass could be improved with several safety measures without being narrowed down to three lanes. The new technical plans were discussed with the Mellieħa Local Council and the necessary work was initiated by several contractors in the past few days.
Commenting on this, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg explained that in its aim to improve the quality of road infrastructure for our country in the years to come, the government is making it clear that it will not hold back from changing and adjusting established plans in order to have a better infrastructure.
“Work on the infrastructure of our country’s roads does not only need to be efficient and high in quality, it also needs to be flexible enough to continuously understand our country’s needs, and the needs of all those who travel on our roads, and where necessary, have the ability to adjust and improve its plans. In the case of Mellieħa, we could have said that somebody else had already narrowed down other parts of the bypass to three lanes, we could have said that those were the existing plans. However, we listened to the concerns put forward by residents and those who use this road on a daily basis, we understood that there was room for improvement, and we immediately took the necessary action to implement it. In this way, we transformed a challenge into an opportunity for an investment in a better designed road, with several more safety facilities for drivers, cyclists, and all those who use it”, said Minister Borg.
The rebuilding of the Mellieħa bypass forms part of a larger plan of work to improve the main connection towards northern localities and areas of the country such as Xemxija, Mellieħa, the Ċirkewwa Gozo Ferry Terminal and the Għadira, Armier and Marfa bays, amongst others. A few weeks ago, we saw the completion of the rebuilding of parts of Triq il-Pwales along the Xemxija shore. This part of the road needed to be demolished in order for new and stronger foundations to be put into place.
Currently, another project is underway with the aim of strengthening the Mistra bridge, which connects Xemxija to Mellieħa, and which was at risk of collapsing after being left unmaintained for decades. This project is also expected to be completed by next summer.
The coming weeks, before the start of summer, will also see repairs of parts of the Selmun Hill so that parts of the road which have given way in the past weeks are redone. Eventually, this road will also need to be rebuilt from scratch through a separate project.