Transport Malta not committed to funding db tunnel at St George’s Bay

Together with other projects earmarked in St George’s Bay, and primarily the approved Villa Rosa project, the development is expected to increase the flow of traffic to the area by an average of 7,000 daily car trips

The ITS site will give way to a 37-storey tower and hotel project that will generate 7,000 daily car trips. The tunnel is earmarked to be constructed underneath Triq il-Mediterran in Pembroke and will pass beneath a Special Area of Conservation
The ITS site will give way to a 37-storey tower and hotel project that will generate 7,000 daily car trips. The tunnel is earmarked to be constructed underneath Triq il-Mediterran in Pembroke and will pass beneath a Special Area of Conservation

Transport Malta has not yet taken any decision with regard to the funding of a proposed tunnel that will link the db Group’s City Centre high-rise development to Pembroke.

The contract through which the land was transferred to the db Group states clearly that the government has to “undertake at its sole cost, risk, legal and financial liability” the “required improvements to the road and utilities infrastructure leading to the site”.

On the other hand, the company is held responsible for all the infrastructural works within the boundaries of the site.

The City Centre project includes a 37-storey tower consisting of 162 apartments, a hotel, Malta’s largest shopping mall and a casino.

Together with other projects earmarked in St George’s Bay, and primarily the approved Villa Rosa project, the development is expected to increase the flow of traffic to the area by an average of 7,000 daily car trips.

Traffic impact studies have shown that present-day road junctions cannot cope with this increase in traffic. This has made the development of a tunnel mandatory and plans for the tunnel are being assessed as part of the City Centre’s planning application.

A report by the Environment and Resources Authority also deems the tunnel as essential to counter an increase in congestion and emissions.

Asked whether the developers will be expected to pay for all or part of the proposed infrastructural works, a government spokesperson replied that since the technical aspects of the project are still being evaluated by the Planning Authority, it
is premature to make any
comments at this stage. “Transport Malta has also not made any commitments with regards to funding the infrastructure proposed,” the spokesperson said.

According to the traffic impact assessment the proposal will consist of an underground by-pass connecting the western edge of Pembroke with Paceville.

Originally experts had proposed a tunnel linking the St Andrew’s junction directly to the St George’s Bay development.

But “after discussions with Transport Malta” the proposal was revised in a way that the new tunnel will not be connected with the parking facilities of the City Centre development.

“The tunnel should provide an underground by-pass connecting the western edge of Pembroke with Paceville and should be made available to the general public,” the Traffic Impact Assessment concludes.

The proposal also foresees a high-capacity grade-separated intersection at the junction on Triq Sant’ Andrija and Triq Suffolk, and an upgrade of the road network in the western zone of Pembroke.

The Democratic Party has called for the proposed St George's Bay development to be halted
The Democratic Party has called for the proposed St George's Bay development to be halted

Environmental impact of tunnel

The tunnel is earmarked to be constructed underneath Triq il-Mediterran in Pembroke.

The tunnel will pass beneath a Special Area of Conservation, which may be disturbed during excavation works with construction dust spilling into the garigue area. According to ERA, this impact can be addressed through continuous stone wetting during the drilling process to reduce the quantities of dust blown into the surrounding environment.

One major negative impact is posed by the “additional excavation waste” resulting from the excavation of the tunnel, over and above the 350,000 tonnes generated by the high-rise project itself.

The ERA also warns that the tunnel may merely displace air quality impacts to other areas “especially when considering that the methods for treatment of emissions within the proposed tunnels have not been finalised”.

Tunnel to serve other developments

The Traffic Impact Assessment also states that the junction upgrade would be required to feed both St George’s Bay’s northern headland and the business hub identified as the Pembroke Development Brief Area (PDBA).

The tunnel itself will link the PDBA to the west and the Triq il-Mediterran/Triq Burma junction to the east.

Together with other projects earmarked in St George’s Bay, and primarily the approved Villa Rosa project, the development is expected to increase the flow of traffic to the area by an average of 7,000 daily car trips

According to the Traffic Impact Assessment it could also contribute to the reduction of traffic generated in Pembroke by the schools located in the western side of this town.

The layout of the link between Triq Sant’ Andrija and the PDBA would, however, have to take in account the allocation of the tract of land for the
development of the Chinese embassy along Suffolk Street.

Despite the construction of the tunnel, some congestion will still be expected in the road linking St George’s Bay with Triq il-Professur Ganado. But the tunnel will relieve pressure on all the other junctions.

Residents’ protest

Residents in Pembroke are organising a protest titled ‘Do Not Bury Us Alive’ on Wednesday 16 May. “Pembroke, Swieqi and St Julian’s are threatened by a proposed development on the ITS site that would effectively bury people alive under the long shadows cast by a gigantic 37-storey tower, unlimited commercialisation, endless traffic, and hazardous dust.”

The protest convenes at 6pm on Pietru D’Armenia Street for a walk to the ITS site. The protest is supported by Moviment Graffitti, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Din l-Art Helwa, Nature Trust (Malta), Friends of the Earth (Malta) and activists in Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent. “This initiative is strictly a non-partisan event organised by residents with the support of NGOs,” the organisers said.

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