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Concurrent roadworks in north of Malta cause gridlock

TM says works are concurrent to reduce duration

For the second time in May Mellieħa residents experienced a rush hour ordeal in the wake of the traffic congestion caused by simultaneous works being carried out in key arterial thoroughfares.

The gridlock was the result of the partial closure of the Mistra Bridge due to urgent repairs, resurfacing works at Xemxija Hill and the Mellieħa Bypass reconstruction. Motorists could not even take Triq il-Miżieb as a detour as a temporary one-way arrangement has been in place for a number of weeks.  

Affected motorists vented their frustration on Facebook after spending up to half an hour to navigate through the short stretch between the Mistra Bridge - where traffic has been reduced to a single lane - to Xemxija Bay.

Many questioned Transport Malta’s decision to carry out these roadworks concurrently rather than stagger the jobs to mitigate traffic disruptions in an area where the existing transport infrastructure was already stretched to its limit.

The authority said when asked that the interventions were scheduled to take place during the same period to make sure they were completed in the shortest time possible.

Had they been planned to take place one at a time, the diversions would have remained in place for longer.

“By carrying out several works along the same route, the overall duration of works is drastically reduced, avoiding deviations and lane closures during the area’s peak summer months,” it said.

TM encouraged road users to use alternative routes through Mizieb Road, which is open in one direction from Xemxija to Mellieha, and through Manikata. Southbound access through Triq il-Mistra and Xemxija Hill was open at all times.

The temporary alternative routes, it said, were marked with roadside deviation signs and TM officials were on site at all times to assist road users.

The repairs on the Mistra Bridge, which started a few weeks ago, are scheduled to be completed within the next few weeks.

Concerns on its structural condition had been raised by Opposition MPs Censu Galea and Robert Cutajar, but as recently as a year ago then Transport Minister Joe Mizzi repeatedly said there was no imminent danger.

Last month, Transport Minister Ian Borg said urgent repairs were required on this bridge.

As for the Mellieha Bypass €2 million upgrade, Transport Malta has set the beginning of summer as the deadline for its completion.

But this will not be the end of the story

 In the last Budget it was announced that the winding road from Mistra Bridge to Selmun Junction will be widened.

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