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Kappara junction project approved

Controversial Kappara junction project approved by MEPA.

Staff Reporter
1 August 2013, 12:00am

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) today approved the Kappara Junction project, with works expected to start next year.

The government is expected to issue a tender between September and October, to kick-off the project which includes a flyover and the widening of part of the Regional Road.

MEPA's Planning Directorate had recommended the least environmentally damaging proposal for the Kappara junction upgrade, but the development could still lead to the destruction of natural habitat, including a unique species of fungus. The project is part of an attempt to reduce traffic congestion on one of Malta's busiest roads.

Following today's decision, one residential unit and one commercial establishment will be demolished.

MEPA previously considered two options for the new junction, with option A being promoted as having the least impact. The option was further modified in a way that it would take up 3,337 square metres from the Special Area of Conservation instead of the 4,455 square meters originally envisioned.

The length and height of the retaining walls on both sides of the overpass deck have also been reduced. The support for the deck will now include more columns.

But despite the reduction of the uptake from the Wied Ghollieqa Special Area of Conservation, the same negative environmental impact is expected. It includes the destruction of carob and olive trees, some of which are more than 50 years old, and a particular species of fungus.

According to MEPA reports, Wied Ghollieqa may be the only site in Europe which hosts the fungus Inoctus indicus. The irreversible damage to it is being justified by 'an overriding public interest'.

The option of keeping the status quo was overruled because the present junction is not equipped to cater to the heavy traffic, and this is resulting in congestion and long traffic queues. Sound barriers will erected to reduce noise levels in nearby neighbourhoods. 

The project aims to separate movement along Mikiel Anton Vassalli Road from the traffic along Sliema Road through the construction of a grade-separated junction. An overpass along Mikiel Anton Vassalli Road, will be constructed with cars passing from the grade-separated road.

The discarded option involved the development of a bridge between the western and eastern parts of Sliema Road, passing over the lower-level carriageways. This option would have encroached upon 4,700 square metres of the Wied Ghollieqa Special Area of Conservation.

Both options entailed the destruction of 14 carob trees, five Cypress trees, nine fig trees and 230 oleanders.

While the project is aimed at reducing congestion, air pollution is still expected to increase slightly, according to environment impact studies.

A number of compensatory measures, which include the removal of alien species, replanting of trees and rebuilding of rubble walls, are expected to be imposed by MEPA. It also proposed a €100,000 bank guarantee.
Pierre Sciberras
Looks good to me, and they are adding a lane so it will be 3 lanes from the University tunnels. About time we widened roads where possible. Pity we had too wait for a Labour Government, for this to happen!