The Environmental and Resources Authority has released a report on the government’s new Central Link Project which aims to decrease traffic congestion between Mrieħel and Mosta by widening roads, redesigning certain junctions and removing some traffic lights or other bottlenecks that can hamper the flow of traffic, with the intention of reducing travel time in this area by 50%.
While on paper this initiative seems like it could really help Malta’s growing traffic issues, the ERA report lists a number of environmental concerns.
As reported by MaltaToday, the ERA first pointed out that 48,466 square metres of agricultural land will be permanently lost.
The lost land includes 549 trees that are currently found alongside the roads being widened, 272 of which are protected
Another major environmental issue brought up by the report involves the massive amount of construction waste, estimated at around 195,000 square metres, that will be generated in the process.
The ERA report does make note of a cost-benefit analysis from June 2018 which concluded that by 2028, the area will reach complete gridlock if no initiative is taken, however, they counteract this by stating that projects aimed at combating congestion should find a way to sustainably and effectively “reduce dependence on car transport”.
The report warns that the Central Link Project does not take into account the growing number of licensed vehicles on our roads
In fact, in a powerful statement in the environmental impact assessment (EIA), ERA says there is “clear evidence that new or expanded roads rapidly fill with displaced or induced traffic, offsetting any short-term gains in eased traffic flows”.
The ERA concluded thee report by saying the project was green-lit despite numerous environmental concerns put forward
Apart from the ones listed above, the report also brings up issues regarding construction noise, possible vibration damage to surrounding buildings, and an expected increase in traffic noise around the residential areas.