The Tal-Barrani road ‘needs major redesign’

The Tal-Barrani Road. Photo: Jason Borg

The Tal-Barrani Road. Photo: Jason Borg

The road where Fr Renè Cilia died in an accident a week ago needs a major redesign to meet today’s safety standards, according to Transport Malta, which also said it was looking into installing roadside barriers along that stretch.

Tal-Barrani Road was constructed in the 1960s and designed for speeds of about 40mph.

Like most dual roads of that time, it was built with narrow carriageways lined with trees and separated by a narrow central strip, while crash barriers were only installed at bends where the road banks, a TM spokesman told The Times.

“To meet today’s road safety standards for new roads a major redesign of this road would be required along the same lines as the recently completed Council of Europe Road.

“This would involve road and central strip widening through probable expropriation of land to accommodate median barriers, the removal of those mature trees and the setting back of party walls which present a roadside hazard,” the spokesman said.

Fr Cilia, 27, of Qormi, died on impact after his car mounted the central strip and careered onto the other side of the road where it collided with two vehicles.

As news of the popular priest’s death spread on November 4, readers rushed to suggesting that crash barriers could have prevented the crash and saved his life. It later emerged that he was not wearing a seatbelt.

Commuters also expressed concern about the frequent traffic accidents on the road.

According to Transport Malta accident data for 2007-2009, Tal-Barrani Road is one of Malta’s most dangerous. In 2009, speed cameras were installed in what was then the most problematic section, between the traffic signal junctions at Triq San Anard, Tarxien and November 25th Avenue, Żejtun.

Transport Malta said they had a “positive impact” both in terms of road safety and average vehicle speed.

However, the section of the road between Palm Street, Tarxien and Xintill Street Roundabout near Santa Luċia, where Sunday’s fatal accident occurred, remains outside the speed camera zone.

The TM spokesman said that according to police data, there had previously been no other accidents involving vehicles crossing over the carriageway on this section of the road. Most of the accidents that take place on the straight sections of Tal-Barrani Road are front-to-rear, involving vehicles travelling in the same direction on the same carriageway.

“In this respect roadside obstacles would probably present more of a potential safety hazard. Although no definite plans to install median barriers exist at this point in time, any decision to place such an installation will have to be taken in the light of the geometry of the whole road carriageway.”

The authority said it would be looking into the accidents that have taken place on this section of the road and may provide “road restraint systems” such as median barriers and roadside barriers where the road geometry permits.

It will also be looking at vehicle speeds to determine whether educational or enforcement measures are needed.

The spokesman urged drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and drive within the speed limits.

TM is currently using European Union funding to introduce a national traffic control centre that will coordinate traffic signal junctions and Pelican crossings along the main road network leading to Valletta, including Tal-Barrani Road.

This would reduce traffic congestion and delays while improving road safety and facilitating the centralised management of traffic incidents.


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