31 Jan

Disused road turned to green area with 459 trees

Infrastructure Malta completed the transformation of a disused road in Msida into a green area with 459 new indigenous trees.

This 1,124-square-metre grove was formed on land previously occupied by a wide slip road connecting Regjonali (Regional) Road and Il-Wied tal-Imsida (Msida Valley) Road. This slip road, the site of numerous serious car accidents in the past, was cut off from the network through last summer’s Regjonali Road upgrade. Infrastructure Malta removed the slip road’s asphalt surface and replaced it with over 2,000 tonnes of soil. This soil had been excavated from other road project sites and stored to be reused for such urban greening projects.

The 459 new trees in this new green area were planted towards the end of the year, as part of Infrastructure Malta’s 2019 initiative to plant 8,719 trees in 40 different roadside urban and rural locations in Malta. Infrastructure Malta is continuing to water and take care of these trees for several years, until they are fully established in their new environment.  

Taking into consideration the area’s sheltered location in the lower part of the Msida Valley, the agency’s arborists selected a variety of 12 species of trees for this project. The new grove includes Aleppo pines, holm oaks, southern nettle trees, Italian cypresses, judas trees, Mediterranean buckthorns, dwarf fan palms, common myrtles, lentisks, bay laurels, hawthorns and strawberry trees. The new trees were also chosen to complement some pre-existing holm oaks in an adjacent landscaped area, which will now form part of the same grove.
 
The arborists also noted that this new green area is a few metres away from the Msida Valley Tree Protection Area on the other side of Il-Wied tal-Imsida Road, where some of the oldest roadside trees of the Maltese Islands are located. Through the Regjonali Road Project, Infrastructure Malta installed crash barriers along the side of this part of the road to protect these English oaks from road accidents and to stop cars from abusively parking beneath their crowns. Vehicle parking under these trees was causing soil sealing and damaging their root anchorage abilities, increasing the risk of toppling during strong winds. The agency’s contractors also cleaned the soakaway reservoir that stores rainwater next to these trees, to further support the natural regeneration of this tree protection area.

Commenting on this project, Ing. Fredrick Azzopardi, Infrastructure Malta’s CEO, explained that this new green area shows how Infrastructure Malta’s road planners are doing their utmost to render Malta’s public infrastructure more sustainable. “Our road upgrade projects are creating safer, more comfortable spaces for all road users and residents, not just for car drivers. By tackling congestion and improving road safety, we are also reducing noise and air pollution and other difficulties that impinge on quality of life in our localities. Last year, a scientific analysis of our major road investments, such as the Marsa Junction Project and the Central Link Project, confirmed that they will be reducing 62,000 tonnes of vehicle carbon dioxide emissions every year.” 

Ing. Azzopardi added that “through our unprecedented tree-planting programme we are building on these air quality improvements with the creation of many new green lungs in our communities. During the first month of 2020 we already planted circa 1,000 new trees in Birkirkara, Balzan, Luqa, Qrendi, Rabat, Naxxar and Marsascala. We are liaising with local councils and other organisations to start planting more trees in other localities in the coming months. Last year Infrastructure Malta planted 8,719 trees, probably exceeding the total amount planted in public spaces by all other organisations put together. This year we are working to exceed this figure with even more trees in many other areas.”  

Individuals or organisations who would like to suggest public spaces that Infrastructure Malta’s arborists can consider for the planting of new trees are encouraged to send their ideas by email on sigar.im@infrastructuremalta.com.