No Xemxija-to-Mellieha road link before 2025

A new road between Xemxija and Mellieha is still included in the list of new roads qualifying for EU funding but will not be completed before 2025, a reply to a parliamentary question reveals

Transport minister Joe Mizzi confirmed that the 'road linking Xemxija and Mellieha is not being indicated in the list of TEN T projects earmarked for completion before 2025'
Transport minister Joe Mizzi confirmed that the 'road linking Xemxija and Mellieha is not being indicated in the list of TEN T projects earmarked for completion before 2025'

A new road between Xemxija and Mellieha is still included in the list of new roads qualifying for EU funding but will not be completed before 2025, a reply to a parliamentary question reveals.

Replying to a question by Nationalist MP Censu Galea, transport minister Joe Mizzi confirmed that the “road linking Xemxija and Mellieha is not being indicated in the list of TEN T projects earmarked for completion before 2025.”

The first proposal connecting Xemija and Mellieha, passing from Manikata, was aborted in 2006 after protests from farmers in the area.

Subsequently a new proposal was made partly utilising an already established route starting from Triq Ghajn Tuffieha to Xemxija road, to Mizieb across the Pwales Valley and close to the agricultural areas of Ta’ Gannaru and l-Imbordin. It then connects to the 545m tunnel under the Xaghra tal-Ghansar ridge, and a small flyover bridge up to the existing Mellieha road. 

But amid major environmental concerns, the road was not even considered one of the transport authority’s priority projects for the period 2007-2013. 

Former roads minister Jesmond Mugliett described the new bypass as “a very tricky issue”, acknowledging that the alternative route posed a risk to the Mizieb aquifer, protected by European laws but already endangered by the illegal extraction of water. But the tunnel treads on the easternmost edge of a drinking water protection zone, covered by EU legislation.

The new project raises concerns about the ecological impact on a scheduled area, which serves as a buffer zone to the Simar reserve. In the past years, the PA has scheduled the Simar area, which includes parts of Pwales, Simar, l-Imbordin, Ta’ Gannaru, ix-Xaghra ta’ l-Ghansar and Ta’ Rkuplu. 

The new road network would alleviate the traffic choking Xemxija Hill, the main artery linking the rest of Malta to Mellieha and Gozo, which takes 23,000 cars every day.  The problem is compounded by an increase in development in Xemxija.  In 2009 Transport Malta warned that 774 new apartments at Mistra, “would exacerbate the present traffic situation”.  Although approved in 2013, the project has failed to materialize. The development of an undersea tunnel connecting Malta and Gozo could also increase pressure for the Xemxija link.

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