The two new tunnels built under the Santa Luċija roundabout, a project which Prime Minister Robert Abela said will make a difference to the lives of thousands who live in the southern area of Malta, started being used by vehicles on Friday morning.
The work, which has been ongoing for just over a year, involved the cutting of over 80,000 tons of rock to build the tunnels, each 90 metres long. Four sliproads have been built, leading to the new roundabout being built over the tunnels. Transport and Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said the project will have cost 20 million euro, with the final work on the tunnels to be carried out next week at the least inconvenient times.
“We did not need to wait for the Marsa Junction project before starting work on the Santa Luċija project. We arranged to link the projects, allowed traffic management to proceed, and I believe that a project completed in less than one year shows clearly the commitment by Government and by Infrastructure Malta on a more efficient infrastructure and transport.”
Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi remarked that the major part of this expenditure will come from European Union funds, with Prime Minister Robert Abela taking his cue from this remark to stress on the importance of European funds in the carrying out of such projects. Dr Abela added that it was for this reason that in June Government had negotiated in Brussels the biggest package of funds which, he added, now have to be spent wisely over the next seven years, including for improvement in transport.
“It will also remain crucial if we are now looking at a dream project – a dream for many and for myself, which we also hope will become a reality on day – mass transport. We have carried out the first studies, detailed studies have been carried out by Minister Ian Borg, other sets of studies remain in order to determine the viability of this project, but I definitely believe it is the way forward,” Dr Abela added.
The Prime Minister also referred to the React EU fund where official figures released by the European Commission show Malta had been allocated 20 million euro more than forecast in this fund, so that the Government will be able to use them to save the jobs of hunreds in sectors hit by the pandemic.
The Santa Luċija tunnels project includes the rebuilding of a jogging track and a subway at the beginning of Tal-Barrani Road, and a new shared pedestrian and cycling path linking Santa Luċija with Marsa, new reservoirs and a system for collecting rainwater for watering the new areas being created with trees and plants.
The first car to pass through the tunnel was a van transit which was driving on the southbound carriageway. This was quickly followed by a number of other private cars in both directions, to the applause of those present. A TVM crew later also drove through the tunnel, as can be seen in this video footage:
You can watch the inauguration of the tunnels here: