Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg announced plans for Malta’s central zone—that connecting Mrieħel and Mosta—an area which sees around 30,000 vehicles a day.
The project, announced as the Central Link Project, will see an investment of €55 million, and will include a 4-kilometre road upgrade so that travel time between Mrieħel and Mosta will go down by 50%.
The Central Link Project, which is planned to be completed over a two-year period, will improve the entire route between the Mrieħel bypass in the direction of Birkirkara, Balzan and Attard, going on until the Saqqajja hill roundabout, which connects Ta’ Qali, Attard, Rabat, Żebbuġ and Mosta.
Thanks to the redesign of 13 junctions and the widening of one-lane bottlenecks along this arterial link, the project will not only be improving travel times, but will also reduce vehicle emissions by 13.5%. During the highest peak hours, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by up to a tonne per hour.
The Central Link Project will improve and create 7.4 kilometres of new lanes thanks to the redesign and upgrade of the arterial route. Because of this, drivers will not need to use the residential roads of these localities to reach their destinations.
Along the route, the project will introduce 19,300 square metres of landscaped areas with trees and shrubbery, 2 kilometres of cycle lanes, 10.7 kilometres of pedestrian passages, and other pedestrian facilities and a grade-separated pedestrian and cycle overpass.
Beneath the road surfaces, the project includes a new storm-water system with three large reservoirs to alleviate existing flooding difficulties, as well as new underground networks for water, electricity and telecommunication services.
The project will upgrade three major signal-controlled junctions along Mdina Road to replace the existing traffic lights system with optimised configurations using uninterrupted, dedicated lanes. These junctions include the Mrieħel Bypass link next to the Malta Financial Services Authority offices, the junction between Mdina Road and Vjal de Paule (towards San Anton Gardens), and the Attard hairpin junction at Wied Inċita (Mount Carmel Hospital area).
The new arterial route will also do away with the Triq in-Nutar Zarb bottleneck at Attard, in the south-bound carriageway of the route, which narrows down to just one lane with buildings on either side, causing substantial delays to commuters travelling in this direction.
Through the new road configuration, the south-bound carriageway will be diverted from the Tal-Warda residential area of Attard to Triq iż-Żagħfran, which is currently used as the north-bound carriageway of the route.
The new north-bound carriageway will be built by connecting and widening three existing roads on the outskirts of Attard: Triq Oliver Agius, Triq Ferdinandu Inglott and Triq Tumas Chetcuti. These roads were originally earmarked for a two-directional four to six-lane bypass road. Instead, through this project, these roads will be rebuilt to include an elevated residential road shielded by a shrub-lined landscaped area and a lower one-direction, two-lane arterial road, linking the north-bound carriageway of the Mdina Road route from Mrieħel and Balzan towards the Wied Inċita area of Attard.
From the Wied Inċita area towards Saqqajja Hill, the existing two-lane road will be widened to four lanes by redesigning the existing wide pavements and central strips.
Minister Borg said that the idea behind this project is not only to address the challenges which every user or resident of these central areas faces; Minister Borg reiterated that the way in which the ministry looks at projects such as these is that they should be investments which address the challenges of traffic and congestions, offering long-term solutions. Several residential areas in Birkirkara, Balzan and Attard have been suffering from persistent difficulties in this road for years, difficulties which led road users to seek alternative routes by using narrower roads in these same areas. Unfortunately, this led to more noise and air pollution in these residential zones, with residents suffering the consequences. The Minister said that this situation cannot persist and this government was willing to take the decision which will lead a project like this to be implemented for the benefit of many, both road users as well as residents.
Minister Borg reminded those present that the Central Link Project will be developed by Infrastructure Malta, the new agency which is being set up by the ministry towards the planning and implementation of the government’s infrastructural investment in the country’s arterial and residential road networks throughout the upcoming years.
The call for offers for the contract for the necessary construction works on the project was issued yesterday. Minister Borg closed off by stating that this project is another large-scale one and because of it as well as because of the implementation of all other projects, both big and small, the country will achieve the infrastructure it deserves as citizens have been expecting for a long time, with the objective of improving their quality of life.
The Central Link Project may be co-financed by the Cohesion Fund of the European Union.