Last Updated on Thursday, 8 February, 2024 at 2:13 pm by Andre Camilleri
The junction which connects Swieqi and St Julian’s together is set for an upgrade in a major infrastructural project which will lead to a similar set up as exists in Kappara some kilometres away.
Announced in a technical briefing on Wednesday, the project will see the removal of the traffic light junction which currently exists on Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli and the construction of new entry routes into Swieqi and St Julian’s and a new traffic organisation system replacing the current narrow underpass which runs beneath the existing traffic lights.
Infrastructure Malta said that key improvements include better management of traffic flow and turning movements into Swieqi and St. Julian’s, enhancing the effectiveness of entry and exit points. For active mobility users, the project delivers new footpaths and an enhanced pedestrian link replacing the current vehicle underpass between Triq is-Swieqi and Triq Santu Wistin.
Traffic modifications include a new slip road from the Northbound carriageway of Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli to Swieqi and St. Julian’s, designed to allow traffic to flow separately and avoid conflicts with the main route. Similarly, traffic exiting St. Julian’s proceeding Northbound, shall use an adjacent route below Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli to merge with the inner lane of the main Northbound carriageway. The exit from Swieqi will be improved through a link below Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli in lieu of the existing substandard underpass connecting the same Swieqi Road with Triq Santu Wistin.
Detailing the project, the head of Infrastructure Malta’s Planning and Design Unit Robert Zerafa said that at its highest point the current road – which is technically already a flyover – will rise by a maximum of around 1.5 metres, which will create the necessary headway to cater for the traffic beneath it.
The currently existing underpass – which is an extremely narrow and low bottleneck for traffic which feeds into a very disorganised traffic area where one can either choose to drive up towards Pender Gardens or down towards Bay Street – will be totally replaced by something of a roundabout which provides a much more organised connection between the two localities.
Describing the project, Infrastructure Malta CEO Ivan Falzon said that it is very similar to the type of intervention which was built at the Kappara Junction only a few kilometres away: traffic flow on the main road – in this case, Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli – will be uninterrupted and thereby more efficient, while the directional traffic will be organised in a better manner beneath it.
Falzon said that plans for the project will be filed with the Planning Authority in the coming days.
He estimated that the project will cost somewhere between €40 million and €50 million, depending on the method statement which the authorities may require, and will take around two years or slightly less from start to finish.
Falzon said that Infrastructure Malta’s team is currently working on how the project can be phased while causing as little disruption as possible, but he noted that this is a major project so there will be some “pain” to endure when it is being built.
He said that there was “strong” consultations with the local councils concerned, and noted that their own proposals had served to improve the final product particularly from a more local aspect.
Additionally, the project will upgrade the stormwater system to better manage rainwater through improved catchments and discharge points.
The project is part of the ongoing improvements to the TEN-T arterial road network and is designed to facilitate better access to these communities, improve safety, and encourage active mobility.
Falzon meanwhile shared that works on the project next to the Luxol grounds are slightly ahead of schedule, with the area being fully opened to traffic last Saturday at 5pm. He said that works still remain on Triq Normandy, while landscaping and signage have to be completed as well.
He said that works are expected to be finished by the end of the month.
Asked about the Msida junction project, Falzon said that the tender bids are still being evaluated.