Mellieħa road is one way down ... again
Mellieħa’s George Borg Olivier Street will be closed to traffic again from today, with all vehicles heading towards the centre from Għadira Bay being diverted through a single carriageway on the newly-rebuilt bypass.
Transport Malta officials will reappear at the foot of the hill to ensure that only residents of the Tas-Sellum area and buses will be allowed through, Mellieħa mayor Robert Cutajar said yesterday.
The diversion is in place because the Mellieħa Bypass and Marfa Road are being reconstructed as part of the European Ten-T projects. They are expected to be completed by the end of this year. Mr Cutajar said the closure follows a unanimous decision at council level and several meetings with Transport Malta to discuss alternative traffic arrangements until the bypass project is completed.
Controversy erupted in May when the street was closed to southbound traffic.
All traffic was being diverted through the narrow, one-way road passing by Popeye Village, with congestion building up and the average trip, especially for Gozitans, increased by 15 to 30 minutes. The diversions were lambasted by the Gozo Business Chamber, which in a statement said the closure of the road was creating more congestion and confusion.
The protests forced the authorities to open the street to two-way traffic again, but this only applied to light vehicles.
The council was promised that one carriageway would be opened as soon as it was ready so that traffic could be diverted away from the centre because of the congestion being created there.
The completion of this carriageway was eventually delayed by around four weeks due to “unexpected problems”.
What irked many was the presence of wardens at the roundabout close to the Seabank Hotel, who were asking motorists for their ID cards if they wanted to drive through the centre of Mellieħa.
Apart from the Transport Malta official who will be controlling drivers wanting to pass through the centre, another official will be stationed close to the Mellieħa Sanctuary to ensure no cars are permitted to drive further up the road.
“They shouldn’t be asking for ID cards. Everyone has to use the new bypass carriageway and we expect people to respect this. We cannot have more congestion in George Borg Olivier Street. We also urge motorists to use the car park in Parish Square to visit the shops in Mellieħa,” Mr Cutajar said when he was contacted yesterday.
He said the council has prepared signs on the bypass directing tourists towards the centre of Mellieħa.