[WATCH] Residents have their say on Santa Lucija tunnels project

As work on the Santa Lucija underpass gets under way, MaltaToday asks residents how they feel about the removal of trees as a result of the project

MaltaToday headed to Santa Lucija to gauge residents' views on the tal-Barrani underpass (Photo: James Bianchi)
MaltaToday headed to Santa Lucija to gauge residents' views on the tal-Barrani underpass (Photo: James Bianchi)
Residents have their say on Santa Lucija tunnels project

Work has started on the Santa Lucija tunnels project, part of which will involve the construction of an underpass connecting Tal-Barrani Road with the Addolorata Cemetery hill.

The work will require that around 3,500 sq.m of public woodland be removed to make way for the necessary excavation work and slip roads.

This will lead to the loss of a considerable number of mature trees, together with the removal of part of a pathway popular with joggers and people out for a walk in the locality.

A substantial part of the jogging track will be removed to make way for the slip road on the northbound carriageway (Photo: James Bianchi)
A substantial part of the jogging track will be removed to make way for the slip road on the northbound carriageway (Photo: James Bianchi)

Last week, residents’ NGO Save Santa Lucija Open Spaces Network called on the Infrastructure Malta to change the planned starting point of the Tal-Barrani underpass, in a bid to save a large part of the woodland surrounding the jogging track.

The Santa Lucija local council, however, endorsed the project, saying residents would benefit from easier access to their locality, as well as having to suffer less air and noise pollution, and congestion.

On its part, Infrastructure Malta is insisting that the €20 million project will continue improving the safety and efficiency of a main route to several towns and villages in the south of Malta.

An Infrastructure Malta billboard in the locality was vandalised (Photo: James Bianchi)
An Infrastructure Malta billboard in the locality was vandalised (Photo: James Bianchi)

Infrastructure Malta also said that the number of trees which will be planted near the underpass will amount to 300 more than the current number.

MaltaToday headed to Santa Lucija to ask residents and people in the area whether they approved of the project, and how they felt about the fact that a number of trees and part of the jogging path would be removed.

The jogging track forms part of a small woodland that acts as a buffer between the locality and the busy Tal-Barrani Road (Photo: James Bianchi)
The jogging track forms part of a small woodland that acts as a buffer between the locality and the busy Tal-Barrani Road (Photo: James Bianchi)

Some of those we spoke to appeared to back the project, saying it was necessary to address the traffic situation.

Others stood somewhat in the middle, highlighting that the removal of trees was not something to look forward to, but that the area’s infrastructure had to be improved.

One woman we spoke to came out more assertively against the uprooting of trees and the destruction of part of the track, saying that while she agreed with the project, she disagreed with the removal of any trees.

PN councillor calls for professional tree transplantation, installation of sound barriers

In a statement on Monday, Nationalist Party Santa Lucija councillor Liam Sciberras noted that the current jogging track had been inaugurated just two years ago, at an expense of €90,000, and “with much fanfare.”

Sciberras underlined the importance of transplanting the trees which will be uprooted in a professional manner. He also requested that the transplanted trees be re-planted in other areas within Santa Lucija itself.

The councillor went on to point out that residents living in the vicinity of the project's location had called for the installation of sound barriers, to minimise the inconvenience caused by the noise of passing traffic at night.

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