Work has started on the maintenance and modernisation works on the major tunnels on Maltese roads.
However, the project will not stop with just repairs and improving the appearance of the facades and the walls. Infrastructure Malta said that it wants to reach the highest international quality standards for these tunnels, with the latest technology to ensure the health and safety of the thousands of people who use them every day.
The agency said that the work should be ready by the first half of next year.
Infrastructure Malta has launched the €10 million project to renovate and carry out maintenance on the Kirkop, Santa Venera, Tal-Qroqq and Ta’ Giorni tunnels which together amount to a length of five kms.
Architect Kylie-Ann Borg Marks said that the first phase of the work will focus on the tunnel’s ceiling, including testing, which should determine the strength of the concrete and what it is made of.
“We will be checking where there are any voids, for example at the Santa Venera and St Julian’s tunnels, where the concrete meets with the rock, and the source of the water which is falling from the Msida structure, and we will check how deep the steel is along the edge of the concrete structure,” she said.
In the technical studies commissioned by the agency, which were carried out with the help of international technical experts who are renowned in this field, it resulted that although the structures are in good condition, the eight tunnels which were built between 1967 – 1996 require substantial maintenance. The electrical system of all the tunnels is antiquated and needs to be changed. The same applies to the safety and fire control systems.
Architect Albert Spiteri said that much of the work in these tunnels will be carried out on the weekends and at night to reduce the inconvenience to drivers. Among the first interventions, there will be the removal of the soot which has collected on the side walls of the tunnel, which will then be covered by a specific type of material.
“We will be carrying out cleaning works as well. This will include painting all the tunnels’ portals and the interior of the tunnel will also be painted. There will be new lighting, CCTV systems, and a system of fire hydrants to make it safer for everyone who uses the tunnels,” he said.
With the new lighting system, the brightness of the lights will change during the day as time goes by, so that drivers can adjust their eyesight as soon as they enter the tunnels. Contractors will build a control room in very set of tunnels which will be connected to the National Traffic Control Centre at Transport Malta, for continuous monitoring.
Infrastructure Malta will improve the emergency exits for every tunnel with various equipment such as fire-resistant doors, fire-fighting equipment and an emergency phone line.