300 trees face uprooting as Santa Lucija tunnels project gets underway

Project approved by the Planning Authority in September 2018 with ERA insisting that approximately 757 new trees will be planted in the same area

Infrastructure Malta's rendering of the completed Santa Lucija tunnels
Infrastructure Malta's rendering of the completed Santa Lucija tunnels

293 trees will be uprooted or removed as part of the plan for a road project that will divert traffic between Tal-Barrani Road and Vjal Santa Lucija through underground tunnels.

The Environment and Resources Authority said that while this was true, 757 trees will be planted and 254 will be transplanted within the same area which will contribute to “approximately 300 new trees in the same area than there is at present.”

Additionally, ERA said that 1,257 trees will be planted in the Maghtab and Majjistral Park.

“The transplanted Olea europaea, Ficus microcarpa and Morus alba specimens have to be maintained by the permit holder for a period of three years from planting. Evidence of transplanting must be submitted to ERA within one month of planting,” the statement read.

It adds that if any of the transplanted trees are to die within this period, the permit holder must replace the trees within the first planting season with trees of the same species.The permit holder must regularly inspect the transplanted tree to administer necessary care and monitor recovery.

“The trees must be maintained by the permit holder for a period of three years from planting. In this case too, should any of the compensatory trees die within the period specified above, the permit holder is bound to replace the trees within the first planting season with trees of the same species and size,” ERA said.

Trees to be chopped or transplanted have already been marked with a green X as the €20 million investment is in the process of implementation.

Infrastructure Maltaworks already underway

Infrastructure Malta has said that such a project will be “improving the safety and efficiency of the principal route to several localities in the southern part of Malta.”

The project was approved by the Planning Authority in September 2018 and includes the excavation and construction of two tunnels beneath the Santa Lucija roundabout to directly connect Santa Lucija Avenue (Addolorata Hill) with Tal-Barrani Road.

“Above the tunnels, the existing roundabout will be rebuilt in a new design that facilitates safer and quicker access to the residents of Santa Lucija, Paola and Tarxien. The project also includes the redesign and reconstruction of a nearby jogging track, the upgrading of the Tal-Barrani Road pedestrian subway to be also accessible to cyclists and to persons with disability, as well as a new cycle track connecting Santa Lucija to Marsa,” Infrastructure Malta said in a statement.

Works on site started a few days ago, Infrastructure Malta said
Works on site started a few days ago, Infrastructure Malta said

The two-lane tunnels will extend 90 metres beneath the existing roundabout to connect the two carriageways of Santa Lucija Avenue with Tal-Barrani Road. Two approach ramps, extending over 130 metres each, will link the tunnel to the two roads.

"Works on site started a few days ago with the excavations for the foundations of the new slip roads as well as the reconstruction of the jogging track. The tunnels will accommodate one of the country’s principal 132kV high voltage electricity network connections, linking the Delimara Power Station with the distribution centre at the site of the former Marsa Power Station,” the statement read.

It added that the new cycle track, almost a kilometre long, will form part of a longer safe cycle route connecting Luqa, Santa Lucija, Tarxien, Paola and Marsa.

The project, Infrastructure Malta said, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020 along with the Marsa Junction Project.

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