Infrastructure Malta considering alternatives to Birkirkara footbridge

Nearly 200 objections presented against 10m-high bridge proposed by IM

An application for the construction of a massive 10m-high footbridge proposed opposite the McDonalds outlet in Birkirkara, has been suspended by Infrastructure Malta after nearly 200 objections were presented by residents.

Equipped with eight-person capacity lifts for cyclists and people with impaired mobility, the bridge was proposed by IM to “facilitate pedestrian crossings at Valley Road”.

But residents have largely rejected the idea with objectors describing it as an “eyesore” which would impair the mobility of pedestrians.

MaltaToday is informed that the suspension was requested by IM following the local council’s demand for more consultation on the project, after it approved a motion presented by minority leader and PN councillor Justin Schembri.

Schembri is now calling for the bridge to be scrapped completely, insisting that this goes against the local plan designating the area as a town centre.

On its part Infrastructure Malta announced that it is suspending the application “to carry out further discussions with stakeholder including the local council” and to “consider alternative solutions to improve safety in the important pedestrian route”.

Nearly 200 objections were submitted against the footbridge proposed. A resident objecting to the project pointed out that the kind of infrastructure being proposed was only appropriate on motorways not in town centres. “This will also make the situation really dangerous for pedestrians, with the possibility of fatalities, because there will be many pedestrians who will just cross the road not take the trouble to go up and down.”

Another resident described the bridge as an eyesore and a waste of money, which “could be used to embellish an already ugly area, rather than increase the uglification of this thoroughfare”.

Other residents identified double parking rather than the traffic lights as the main source of traffic in this area.

A resident who lives in an apartment in the immediate vicinity of the bridge objected to having such “such a large and ugly structure in front of our building” warning that this will deprive the apartments of sunlight. “We will have absolute no privacy in our own residence, since the building proposed will be higher than our windows.”

Another resident noted that the main goal of building highways like the Central Link project was to take the vehicles out of the village centres. “If this bridge is in need to be built, this means that this mission (to take cars out of the city) was unsuccessful… cars should never get the priority over pedestrians in the village cores… We need village cores with less cars and that are more accessible to local communities.”

Other residents also called for more measures to divert traffic to the Dun Karm bypass. Din l-Art Helwa is objecting to the development warning that it is in breach of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) which seeks to make the Urban Area “an attractive place for people to live, work, play and interact “and that “ historic cores should become vibrant and their townscapes harmonious.”

Reminding that the area is designated as a Primary Town Centre in the local plans Din l-Art Helwa insists that in town centres “the pedestrian is to be given utmost priority, not by pushing the people off the streets to make way for more vehicular flow.”