Maltatoday, 2nd July 2008, by James Debono
The Malta Transport Authority (ADT) is sending mixed messages on the proposed Xemxija bypass, a major road project that threatens agricultural land and underground water sources.
The ADT had first stated in its annual report that the project topped its agenda during the past year – and then said the project is not considered a priority before 2013.
The new road is considered important to alleviate traffic flowing through the Xemxija Bay area, but is also controversial as it poses a risk to agricultural land and the underground water sources in the pristine north of the island.
But despite being high on the Authority’s agenda, the project is still not considered as one of the priority projects for the period 2007-2013, a spokesperson for the ADT told MaltaToday.
Recently, a traffic impact study prepared by ADT in consideration of a Xemxija project, stated that following the approval of the 860 apartments on the site of the former Mistra village, the development of the bypass “will definitely become a top priority”.
The development in the former Mistra Village complex will increase the flow of cars through one of Malta’s tightest traffic bottleneck on Xemxija Hill.
The ADT confirmed that one of the options being considered is the Imbordin route.
This route will partly utilize an already established route leading from Triq Ghajn Tuffieha to Xemxija road, to Mizieb across the Pwales Valley, close to the agricultural areas of Ta’ Gannaru and ta’ l-Imbordin, and then connect to a 545-metre tunnel under the Xaghra ta’ l-Ghansar ridge and a small bridge up to the existing Mellieha road.
Environmentalists have already expressed concern that this route would pass right through the Mizieb aquifer, which is legally protected by EU directives.
Yet the ADT is still insisting that the proposed construction of a Xemxija-Mellieha link is not one of the priority projects for 2007-2013.
“It is pertinent to note that this project is still in at the early concept design stage and further detailed technical and environmental studies of the various options need to be undertaken before a decision is taken on the preferred route,” an ADT spokesperson told MaltaToday.
According to the ADT the construction of the new link will require an assessment of the impacts of any chosen route on the geology, hydrology and hydro-geology of the affected area.