Santa Lucija activists meet Borg with alternative design for Tal-Barrani entrance

Save Sta Lucija Open Spaces Network tell roads minister jogging track green area must be spared from roads project

Rendition of the Santa Lucija tunnels project
Rendition of the Santa Lucija tunnels project

The residents’ and activists’ association for Santa Lucija has submitted a concept plan of an alternative design for Tal-Barrani entrance to the Sta Lucija Underpass.

The Save Sta Lucija Open Spaces Network representatives had a meeting with infrastructure minister Ian Borg, where it proposed an alternative entrance comprising of an underground tunnel that would require less land take-up than the design contemplated by Infrastructure Malta.

“The auxiliary roads near the Sta Lucija roundabout would be on top of the underground tunnel. In this way, the Sta Lucija jogging track green area would be spared,” Catherine Polidano, of the Sta Lucija network said.

“Dr Borg undertook to forward the Network’s proposal to Infrastructure Malta for an evaluation based on technical, contractual and financial feasibility,” the long-time Santa Lucija activist said.

In the meeting, the Network reiterated its support for infrastructural improvements to alleviate traffic congestion. “The meeting also covered issues over which the Network and Minister Borg hold different views. However, the spirit of the meeting was positive. The Network wishes to express its appreciation to Minister Borg for accepting to meet and hear the Network’s position,” Polidano said.

Infrastructure Malta will present the conclusion of its evaluation to the Save Sta Lucija Open Spaces Network in an upcoming meeting. “The Network augurs that the meeting with Infrastructure Malta will be held at the earliest so that if there is a feasible alternative, the environmental damage to the Sta Lucija green area will be halted as soon as possible.”

The Network says that as envisaged, the Tal-Barrani Underpass would destroy at least 3,500 square metres of irreplaceable public woodland surrounding the Sta Lucija jogging track.

The authorities plan to instead “cram” the jogging path into a much smaller area than it occupies presently. “Technically this is possible,” Polidano had said. “But taking away a large portion of this already tiny woodland would erode many of the benefits that it has bestowed up to now.”

The Sta Lucija Jogging Track Woodland was nurtured by successive governments and is enjoyed by the residents of Sta Lucija, Tarxien and Paola, but also by the Maltese population at large.

“People from nearby and afar, come to this woodland. And not only to jog. They come to sit or walk surrounded by secluded green space to refresh body and mind. They come with children and peers to lighten spirits and strengthen social bonds. In today’s stressful way of life, common citizens, especially those who do not own a garden, vitally rely on the tranquillity that such a public green area can provide for free,” Polidano said.

“As part of Sta Lucija’s green belt, this woodland is not surplus land waiting to be used. This woodland was specifically created to give beauty to the place and as a green lung for present and future generations.

“This anti-pollution shield traps significant amounts of poisonous vehicle emissions, and takes up much of the carbon dioxide released by heavy traffic in the surrounding arterial roads. These effects benefit all of Malta not just neighbouring towns – as vehicle emission particulates tend to be very light and so carried by the wind all over Malta,” Polidano added.

Polidano said taking the trees away from this woodland and replanting them in other places will not do this frontline job.

“There will be many less trees and much less open soil to absorb the vehicle pollutants right at the pollution source. Our asthma rates will rise further and asthma attacks become more frequent and severe if we reduce this woodland.”

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