Attard bypass to gobble 50,000 sq.m of agricultural land

EIA warns of alarming pollution levels if bypass not constructed and promises less congestion and significant improvements in air quality

A photomontage as seen from the Mriehel bypass
A photomontage as seen from the Mriehel bypass

The Central Link project connecting Mrieħel, Attard and Rabat will result in the loss of 48,466 sq.m of agricultural land, according to Environment Impact Assessment of the project.   19000 sq.m will be taken up by the new bypass and the rest taken up by works on other roads feeding the bypass.

A total of 549 trees of which 266 are protected species will be uprooted, while an additional 237 trees will be transplanted.

But the distinctive Aleppo pine trees along the western stretch of Triq l-Imdina will not be uprooted.

The project provides for the planting of 618 new mature indigenous trees such as olive, almond and pine trees along the entire route. 

The take-up of agricultural land, excavation of soil and demolition of rubble walls will cause “a permanent destruction of all ecological features which are associated with these habitat types”.

While acknowledging the negative impact on agriculture the project is expected to bring an improvement in air quality.

The EIA warns that if the project is not commissioned, there would be a significant increase in low-speed queuing of vehicles due to traffic bottlenecks, with only a handful of vehicles being able to trickle out of the traffic congestion on a daily basis.

These slow-moving vehicles would generate alarming levels of PM10 and NO2 over the years 2030 and 2045.

But if the project is commissioned, significantly less traffic queuing is expected, and the overall air quality would improve.

The EIA predicts an immediate improvement in air quality, with a 9% and 2% reduction in PM10 and NO2, respectively.

These forecasts are based on a 1.5% increase in traffic till 2030 and a 1% increase between 2030 and 2045.

Compared to the do-nothing scenario, the project is expected to result in the PM10 concentrations which are 42% and 60% lower in 2030 and 2045 respectively. NO2 concentrations will be 15% and 30% lower if the project is commissioned.

The project will include the modification of several existing junctions to cater for the increase in the number of lanes and the construction of the Attard Bypass.

It will improve the traffic flow through Attard through the conversion of Triq in-Nutar Zarb from a single carriageway bidirectional road to a unidirectional road.

The existing Triq In-Nutar Zarb will cater for eastbound vehicles travelling towards Mrieħel, with the proposed unidirectional Attard Bypass accommodating vehicles travelling in a westbound direction towards Rabat.

A total of 8km of new cycle paths and pedestrian footpaths will be upgraded or constructed.

The study also warns that the historical landmarks like the Wignacourt Aqueducts and Villa Mediterranea Flora may be indirectly affected during the construction phase.

“The increased levels of vibration during the construction work may adversely affect the stability of these two features”. 

But proper construction methods and supervision are deemed sufficient to protect these monuments.

READ MORE: Central Link Project final plans shift controversial new road further away from residents

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