[WATCH] Farrugia thinks more studies needed on Gozo tunnel: 'It is like the metro'

Farrugia did not commit to having a Gozo tunnel ready in the next five years, saying instead that the Labour Party's manifesto will guide the government

Infrastructure Minister Aaron Farrugia did not commit to completing the Malta-Gozo tunnel link in the next five years of the Labour Party's administration, insisting that certain technical and financial feasibility aspects still need to be evaluated. 

During a press conference on Tuesday, Farrugia said that experts are regularly updating him on the project and its possibilities. 

"This is a project like the Metro, one needs to carry out more studies and decide accordingly. One needs to evaluate feasibility from a technical and financial aspect," he said. 

When asked by MaltaToday whether the tunnel link will be completed in the next five years, Farrugia said that the Labour Party's manifesto will be the guiding blueprint for the coming years. 

The Malta-Gozo tunnel was an electoral pledge from the Labour Party, and had received bipartisan support in parliament when the motion was put forward by ministers Ian Borg and Justyne Caruana.

However, the project was originally the brainchild of former PN minister Chris Said. When the motion was tabled in parliament, Caruana pointed out that there was going to be an element of continuity, with the Labour administration finishing what the Nationalist administration started.

Mrieħel flyover 'needs to happen'

On the Mrieħel flyover project, Farrugia said that the investment is necessary. "The choices are between one model and another. Right now we're evaluating all the possibilities with experts and the infrastructure agency," he said. 

"Our aim is to limit environmental damage so that Maltese people can benefit from such projects without the environmental damage that could be caused." he continued. 

Infrastructure Malta had put forward plans to create a flyover structure on the Mrieħel bypass to provide safer access to and from the industrial estate. However, the proposal was unanimously opposed by the Qormi local council, who urged the agency to drop the plans entirely.

A group of over 150 residents and farmers in the Qormi-Mrieħel area had requested the personal intervention of Prime Minister Robert Abela, since swathes of land and fields would be taken in order to build a flyover.

Alternatively, the Qormi local council had proposed a tunnel below the existing road, with IM saying it was analysing this proposal.

Paceville tunnels

In 2019 Infrastructure Malta announced plans for an extensive road and tunnel investment for the Paceville and Pembroke town. The project was announced publicly on the agency's social media page, but the actual plans were kept under wraps for a few months. 

Farrugia said that assessments are being carried out on the several projects in the pipeline for the Paceville area. "We're focusing on making sure they're compliant," he said. 

The project proposes the upgrading of the Pembroke-St Julian’s connection through the widening of Triq Sant’ Andrija and Triq Anzio, a 500m tunnel connecting Regional Road and Triq Santu Wistin and Triq Walter Ganado, a tunnel connection between Triq il-Knisja and Triq San Gorg in Paceville, a 1.5 km tunnel connection between Triq Xatt ta’ San Gorg and the Coast Road, and new roundabouts at Spinola, Triq Elia Zammit, Triq Sant’ Andrija and Triq is-Sajjieda.

The plans also envisage a tunnel and a pedestrian link crossing the Harq Hammiem valley. In Paceville the proposed tunnels will converge under the protected Spinola gardens.