Kappara junction: MEPA opts for least environmental damage

The negative environmental impact of Kappara junction includes the destruction of carob and olive trees and a particular species of fungus.

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority's Planning Directorate is recommending the least environmentally damaging proposal for the Kappara junction upgrade, but the development could still lead to the destruction of natural habitat, including a unique species of fungus. The proposal is part of an attempt to reduce traffic congestion on one of Malta's busiest roads.

MEPA previously considered two options for the new junction, with option A being promoted as having the least impact. The option was further modified in a way that it would take up 3,337 square metres from the Special Area of Conservation instead of the 4,455 square meters originally envisioned.

The number of third-party structures to be affected by the junction upgrade was also reduced from five residential units and a commercial property to one residential property and a commercial property.

The length and height of the retaining walls on both sides of the overpass deck have also been reduced. The support for the deck will now include more columns.

But despite the reduction of the uptake from the Wied Ghollieqa Special Area of Conservation, the same negative environmental impact is expected. It includes the destruction of carob and olive trees, some of which are more than 50 years old, and a particular species of fungus.

According to MEPA reports, Wied Ghollieqa may be the only site in Europe which hosts the fungus Inoctus indicus. The irreversible damage to it is being justified by 'an overriding public interest'.

The option of keeping the status quo was overruled because the present junction is not equipped to cater to the heavy traffic, and this is resulting in congestion and long traffic queues.

The option recommended for approval aims to separate movement along Mikiel Anton Vassalli Road from the traffic along Sliema Road through the construction of a grade-separated junction. An overpass is being proposed along Mikiel Anton Vassalli Road, with cars passing from the grade-separated road.

The discarded option involved the development of a bridge between the western and eastern parts of Sliema Road, passing over the lower-level carriageways. This option would have encroached upon 4,700 square metres of the Wied Ghollieqa Special Area of Conservation.

Both options A and B would entail the destruction of 14 carob trees, five Cypress trees, nine fig trees and 230 oleanders. Option B would result in the destruction of five olive trees, while option A would eliminate three.

While the project is aimed at reducing congestion, air pollution is still expected to increase slightly, according to environment impact studies.

A number of compensatory measures, which include the removal of alien species, replanting of trees and rebuilding of rubble walls, are expected to be imposed by MEPA. It is also proposing a €100,000 bank guarantee.

A decision on the controversial project will be taken on Thursday, 1 August. The debate surrounding it has been going on for the past five years.

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Is there an entity in Malta that assesses and measures the high stress level of daily commuters through Kappara junction? and then weigh its impact against which is the most damaging to the environment, the people (stress) factor or the relocation of carob and olive trees?
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Malta does not need to reinvent the wheel because it has been turning in other countries with similar physical constraints which require a long term visionary approach of a balanced mix of undergrounds and bridges to link up the main Maltese cities. Why not a Hong Kong or Singapore or Taiwan in the Mediterranean?
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Tgħid il-MEPA investigat jekk hemmx xi bejta nemel tgħix fl-inħawi li tista tiġi estinta jekk isir dan il-proġett?
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An development of this sort is bound to make environmental damage to some degree, the important thing is that a final decision is taken and work starts on this much needed traffic congestion relief.
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Once the Kappara problem is sorted the bottle neck will simply be transferred to Msida!
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It certainly looks ugly, so my solution would be to disguise the legs , paint them various green colours and break the sharp lines and plant vertical cypress tress around then to hide them.
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We need that fly over urjent,what ever it takes.