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Costly proposal for Kappara Junction

Some people claiming they represent Kappara and Gzira residents keep on proposing crackpot alternatives to the original flyover proposal at the Kappara junction. The latest version (‘Fresh plans for Kappara junction’ The Sunday Times, October 28) proposes no flyovers or tunnels, but lengthy detours for drivers going and coming from Kappara and Gżira.

Its proponents claim that it will be visually better, yet the aesthetics of the spaghetti junction when compared to a simple flyover is debatable. But more importantly the whole issue started when residents wanted the high pollution levels to be reduced. So will this new proposal reduce pollution?

Let us make a simple calculation; The traffic that will be using the proposed Zammit Clapp hairpin (coming from the Kappara hill and Tal-Qroqq junction crossing to Gzira or going south) instead of simply turning at the present roundabout, will have to travel uphill, slow down in a queue at the turning (revving engines since it is uphill), and then drive back down to the Kappara junction. This is an extra kilometer. It may not sound like much, but I counted an average of 24 cars/minute crossing the roundabout at 11am (not the rush hour) that would have to use the proposed detour.

At an estimated average urban fuel consumption of 9.9km/l (taken from UK statistics – ours is probably much higher), and 18hrs/day of traffic we would get 24cars x 1/9.9litres x 1080mins = 2,600 extra litres of fuel (€3,900)/day. This conservative figure would create an estimated six tonnes of CO2/day, as well as a load of toxic and noise pollutants that will be dispersed into the vicinity, i.e. homes in Kappara and Gzira as well as the schools of Stella Maris, Sacred Heart and Zammit Clapp Hospital.

At present the traffic going downhill is idling all the way, using only brakes, and little fuel. To rev up the hill and go back down again as proposed is costly, wasteful and dirty. And this is only half of the story; the other proposed detour towards Tal-Qroqq is an even longer 1.5km going uphill than down again. Its the University and Msida which will receive these extra fumes.

The original flyover plan as shown in Mepa’s North Harbour local plan would allow a simple straightforward traffic flow and reduce the pollution in the area. I really hope that Transport Malta and Mepa do not consider taking the latest alternative proposal seriously for our sake.

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