Flyover, underground tunnel to replace Ħal Luqa principle roundabout
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Infrastructure Malta launched the Luqa Junction Project, a 2021 investment to replace this locality’s principal roundabout with a multi-level junction facilitating quicker and safer connections between Qormi, Santa Lucija, Marsa, Gudja, the Airport, the Kirkop Tunnels and Birzebbuga.
It was pointed out in a statement that the existing roundabout is an important junction of the core TEN-T arterial road network, merging three major routes to and from several surrounding destinations. It is also one of the main access points to the centre of Luqa. This new project will introduce a flyover, an underpass and other dedicated lanes at grade to open up direct, uninterrupted links between three arterial roads, including San Tumas Road towards Qormi, Il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa Road from Santa Lucija and Marsa, and L-Avjazzjoni Avenue, which leads to Gudja, Birzebbuga, the Kirkop Tunnels, the Airport and the Freeport.
The project will also see the transformation of the vast area currently occupied by the large roundabout into approximately 5,900 metres squared of open spaces, most of which will become public recreational areas landscaped with footpaths, trees and monumental artworks, with easy pedestrian access from the centre of Luqa. Luqa Junction Project also incorporates a new segregated cycling and pedestrian path along part of Il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa Road, which will be adjoined to existing cycle lanes and footpaths in L-Avjazzjoni Avenue.
With almost 16,000 road users every hour during the morning and afternoon peaks, the Luqa roundabout is operating beyond its capacity, causing long queues with resulting delays. The existing junction design offers limited segregation between traffic flows from different directions and has become a major conflict point, causing delays and congestion emissions in Luqa and nearby locations.
Combined with the upcoming Kirkop Tunnels and Airport Intersection Project, which will see a similar upgrade of the Airport roundabout half a kilometre away, the Luqa Junction Project is expected to reduce travel times by up to 74% in all directions. These two projects are also effectively removing two accident black spots by ending roundabout conflicts and by introducing safer spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.
These two projects will also lead to significant air quality improvements in Luqa, Gudja and neighbouring areas. It is estimated that they will cut particulate matter emissions by up to 9.1 tonnes every year. Similarly, carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to the climate crisis, will go down by up to 33,000 tonnes annually.
The new flyover of the Luqa Junction Project will extend 220 metres to open an uninterrupted lane connecting the southbound carriageway of San Tumas Road with the southbound carriageway of L-Avjazzjoni Avenue, towards the Airport, Gudja, Birzebbuga and the Kirkop Tunnels. The cut-and-cover, single-lane tunnel will be 60 metres long and over 5.5 metres deep. It will link the westbound carriageway of Il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa Road with the northbound carriageway of San Tumas Road, so that road users travelling from Santa Lucija can continue towards Qormi without having to cross oncoming traffic on the way to the Airport and other destinations in the same direction.
At grade, new dedicated lanes will provide direct connections from the northbound carriageway of L-Avjazzjoni Avenue to San Tumas Road (towards Qormi) and Il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa Road (towards Marsa and Santa Lucija). The existing roundabout bypass lanes will be modified to become dedicated lanes serving the remaining directions.
Instead of the roundabout, Infrastructure Malta will develop a new recreational open space, with pathways and pedestrian crossings for easy access from the centre of Luqa and from the new and existing cycle lanes and footpaths of the three arterial roads around it. It will be embellished with new trees, shrubs and large-scale public artworks, as it is currently doing around the new roads of the Marsa Junction Project.
Most of the project will be built within the footprint of the existing roundabout and the roads leading to it. A strip of approximately 2,000 metres squared of new land along the westbound carriageway of Il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa Road will be required to develop the new segregated cycling and pedestrian track.
Infrastructure Malta is working to conclude the required permitting and procurement processes of this project by the end of the year. It is currently also consulting several stakeholders to discuss and augment the project’s benefits. Works on site are planned for 2021, in conjunction with the Kirkop Tunnels and Airport Intersection Project (KTAIP), which is scheduled to commence later this year. The KTAIP includes the reconstruction of the Airport roundabout, at the other end of L-Avjazzjoni Avenue, into a multi-level intersection with two tunnels and a flyover.
The Luqa Junction Project and the KTAIP may be co-financed through the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility.