Excavation works laying the foundations for the Central Link Project, a €55 million investment aimed at reducing travel times, improving air quality and creating safer spaces for alternative modes of travel along the arterial road corridor between Mriehel and Ta’ Qali, started today, Infrastructure Malta said.
The works went ahead today after the Civil Court’s First Hall refused a request for a prohibitory injunction made by Maltese NGOs and seven individuals to halt works while an ongoing appeal is being heard.
The refusal means Infrastructure Malta can begin works on the project – though if the appeal is upheld, they will have to stop works immediately.
Initial works starting this week include the excavations for the foundations of the new lanes, footpaths, bus lay-bys and cycle tracks that will be built along the project route, which extends from the Mriehel Bypass, along L-Imdina Road, through Birkirkara, Balzan and Attard, to the roundabout at the foot of Saqqajja Hill, at Ta’ Qali.
Infrastructure Malta said it will develop over 24,000 square metres of new green landscaped areas along the project route.
This project is aimed at cutting travel times “in half” in this area and “drastically reducing” congestion pollution in nearby residential areas by reconstructing 13 junctions, removing four traffic lights systems and adding over seven kilometres of new lanes along a 4.3 km road corridor.
New opportunities for alternative modes of travel, including over 10 kilometres of safe pedestrian footpaths and segregated crossings, bus lay-bys and the longest segregated cycle track in the Maltese Islands, connecting Mriehel, Birkirkara, Balzan, Attard and Ta’ Qali, have also been unveiled.
During this initial stage of the project, all existing lanes will remain open.
Infrastructure Malta said it will be coordinating the works in different phases to minimise difficulties to over 30,000 road users who use this part of the network every day, and to nearby residents in Birkirkara, Balzan and Attard.
Infrastructure Malta said that “congestion difficulties faced by thousands of commuters every day will get worse if existing infrastructure is not improved”.
The air quality study included as part of this assessment, with the air particulate matter in Attard and Balzan set to increase by 278% by 2030 if the project is implemented, IM said.
Particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are the two main pollutants linked to road transport emissions.