Kappara residents: chosen junction protects the valley
Kappara residents believe Transport Malta chose to go ahead with the most environmentally friendly option to solve the area’s long-running junction bottle-neck problems.
Building a bridge over the present Mikiel Anton Vassalli Street supported by pillars on the banks of the valley – in line with existing building and development footprint – addressed concerns on air quality and traffic management, they said.
Resident Ruben Overend stressed that the proposed bridge crossing what is known as Regional Road will mean losing only 20 square metres of land, considered as an area of ecological importance in Wied Għollieqa.
This, he said, contrasts with the 155 square metres impacted by the original proposal.
Moreover, the impact of the original proposal on an existing bird sanctuary in Wied Għollieqa would have been twice as bad as the second option.
The original proposal had suggested four slipways on either side of the current road as well as raising the whole road on pillars, which would cost some €4.5 million to expropriate between seven and 10 buildings on the Gżira side.
This would have included The Cottage restaurant as well as the relatively new block of flats behind it. It would also mean closing such an important thoroughfare for two years.
Mr Overend said residents were “pleasantly surprised” to hear Transport Malta favouring the second option, which was similar to proposals by an engineer they had appointed. The option will now be considered by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.
He said residents were also pleased the decision was not taken to “shut us up” but on the basis of detailed technical studies that delved into the pros and cons of each option.
According to a technical report commissioned by Transport Malta, including a feasibility study, the second option was preferred because it would cut pollution levels through shorter driving distances, although the two would both cost around €24 million.
Mr Overend said the favoured proposal would not destroy the valley as the pillars would be placed on its banks and not protrude more than the existing building line.
Mr Overend, who sits on the Kappara Residents’ Association, admitted that the footprint of the chosen option is slightly larger than the original option but argued that experts said the flora earmarked for removal was not ecologically sensitive.
“Kappara residents would be plain stupid to propose a development that ruins the only source of oxygen in this extremely polluted hamlet. The results of the air quality studies have shown that we live in a highly polluted area,” he said.
Solving the problem of the bottleneck Kappara junction, the cause of much frustration for motorists, has been an objective since the early 1990s.
Once completed, the EU-funded project was expected to ease traffic on the four thoroughfares. Several attempts to solve the problem over the years have failed, including the much-criticised installation of traffic lights on the roundabout.