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Watch: ‘Attard gridlock opponents against central link’

'Inconvenience in Żebbuġ lasted a few hours' - Minister

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Updated at 11.30am with AREN comments

Those complaining about the Attard gridlock caused by the closure of a 250 metre road were also against the Central Link project, Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said.

Dr Borg was commenting after he was asked about temporary traffic arrangements necessitated by works on Triq il-Linja that had left motorists stuck in long queues.

Excavation work to replace underground services and the laying of asphalt are expected to take until the end of this week.

The local council welcomed the decision to do the works but said it had been unaware of the deviations, which had resulted in “complete chaos”. The Attard Residents Environmental Network also complained a lack of planning had resulted in toxic emissions.

This map highlights delays during roadworks between August 27 and September 3, as compiled from the Maltese Roads Traffic Updates app’s notification co-ordinates. Orange illustrates heavy slow moving traffic ranging between five and 20 kilometres per hour (Imdina Road in Qormi, Attard Road, Naxxar Road, Dun Karm Road and Tal-Balal Road), while red shows traffic at a standstill ranging between zero and 10 kilometres per hour (Regional Road, Imdina Road in Zebbug and Imdina Road in Attard). Photo: Maltese Roads Traffic UpdatesThis map highlights delays during roadworks between August 27 and September 3, as compiled from the Maltese Roads Traffic Updates app’s notification co-ordinates. Orange illustrates heavy slow moving traffic ranging between five and 20 kilometres per hour (Imdina Road in Qormi, Attard Road, Naxxar Road, Dun Karm Road and Tal-Balal Road), while red shows traffic at a standstill ranging between zero and 10 kilometres per hour (Regional Road, Imdina Road in Zebbug and Imdina Road in Attard). Photo: Maltese Roads Traffic Updates

Motorists who spoke to the Times of Malta earlier this week expressed frustration that the alternative routes selected by Infrastructure Malta could not cope with the large volume of traffic.

But Dr Borg said that, while he was in favour of more coordination, he himself had seen correspondence with the council about the roadworks months ago.

“I’m surprised the council is surprised about the roadworks. I think the council is glad the government is carrying out work it should have done itself but had no resources to do.”

The minister said residents were in favour of the Central Link project. However, there were people who in the past had argued there was no need for the project and were now saying the whole village was jammed because of the closure of Triq il-Linja, he added.

Asked about traffic inconvenience in Żebbuġ, he said the works required road closures that lasted a few hours and people could now enjoy better infrastructure.

The De Rohan Gate roundabout and the one next to St Dorothy’s School had been rebuilt to improve road safety and efficiency, the authorities said last month.

They said the De Rohan Gate roundabout had been upgraded with dedicated bypass lanes to reduce waiting times and that the one next to St Dorothy’s, linking Rabat and Attard to Żebbuġ, was being upgraded with increased approach lanes.

Reacting to Dr Borg’s comments, the Attard Residents Environmental Network noted “with satisfaction” his acknowledgment that lack of co-ordination and proper planning was “the main issue behind the traffic experienced by the thousands” driving from Qormi towards Żebbuġ.

The Network said it had alerted the public about the closures of Żebbuġ and Tal-Linja roads before Transport Malta, and continued to monitor the area and provide real-time information on its social media page.

“Meanwhile, TM failed to dispatch officials to supervise traffic in Attard and failed to keep drivers informed about the situation and offer any viable alternate routes...

“The least TM could have done was install the highly promoted intelligent information boards in strategic locations, saving many from pollution, frustration and unnecessary delays. One can only imagine the devasting consequences such bad organisation would have had on any emergency services requiring that route.”

The Network also noted it has had regular meetings with the Minister and other top TM officials discussing its recommentdations for the proposed central link.

“At no stage of these discussions, was there any reference to opposing the project and AREN proposed numerous alternatives which are mainly based on the construction of a suitable bypass connecting the Mrieħel with the Żebbuġ Bypass.

“This could be constructed either over existing roads or even better as an elevated road. This has several advantages over existing proposal.”

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