“After being shelved for the past 13 years, the time has come to launch the Central Link Project, an investment that will deliver a better quality of life for residents of Attard, Birkirkara and Balzan and thousands of other people who use this main route on a daily basis,” said Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, in his first reaction, yesterday afternoon, after the Planning Authority approved the application by Infrastructure Malta to carry out this project. Central Link Project includes the rebuilding and improvement of the route between Imriehel bypass and the roundabout at the foot of Saqqajja Hill.
Through this project, Infrastructure Malta will create 7 kilometres of new lanes, reconstruct 13 junctions to improve their efficiency and security, while planting a 21,700 square meter area with trees and plants, and several new facilities which will translate into more sustainable travel, including the introduction of the longest bicycle lane in Malta.
“In the coming weeks, I look forward for Infrastructure Malta’s contractors to start work. We are adamant that all work is carried out with the utmost care and according to all the necessary measures as required by the authorities, to complete this new infrastructure in the most sustainable way and with the minimum impact possible on all those who live, work or travel in this area,” said Dr Borg.
He went on to explain that the Central Link Project will be developed on a plan for the area, that has been envisaged in the Local Plans for Central Malta since 2006, but was never executed, to the detriment of families living in the area, including those living in Hal Balzan and Attard. “We did not opt for the easiest solution as was planned in 2006 and built a four-lane bypass on agricultural land as was envisaged then. Instead, we investigated the requirements of the whole region, we have explored the opportunities and constraints presented by the existing roads, scientifically examined several proposals and different impacts and have consulted for over a year, to now arrive at a solution that will not only be utilising 57% less agricultural land than was planned in 2006, but will be also benefit residents and those travelling through the area, whether pedestrians or travelling by car, by bus or bike.
Minister Borg reiterated that the Central Link Project will reduce travel time by half, even taking into account the increase in demand for transport envisaged for the future. At the same time, studies conducted by independent experts show that through this investment, residents and workers of Imriehel, Birkirkara, Balzan, Attard and Ta’ Qali will enjoy better air quality due to the resultant sharp decrease in vehicle emissions.
Minister Borg also mentioned that a technical study by economist Dr Gordon Cordina earlier this year shows that Central Link Project, together with six other major road projects undertaken by Infrastructure Malta, including the Marsa junction Project, will in the next 25 years restore the country some €1,200 million worth in cleaner air, less time wasted in travel and less fuel costs and accidents. For every € 1 million invested in these seven projects, workers and families in our country are recovering €7 million in benefits. The Central Link Project, in particular, will yield the country’s economy with €16 for every €1 of investment in this project for over 25 years.
Minister Borg concluded that the Government is committed to continue with its investment in the country’s transport infrastructure enabling it to make a great leap forward in quality and efficiency, to fulfil our nation’s needs and aspirations for today and the future, in a sustainable manner, while continuing to provide families in our country with a better quality of life.