Santa Lucija Underpass project in progress
Infrastructure Malta is starting the construction of the Santa Lucija Underpass project, a €20 million EU-funded investment to continue improving the safety and efficiency of the principal route to several localities in the southern part of Malta.
This project, which was approved by the Planning Authority in September 2018, includes the excavation and construction of two tunnels beneath the Santa Lucija roundabout, to directly connect Santa Lucija Avenue (Addolorata Hill) with Tal-Barrani Road. Above this underpass, the existing roundabout will be rebuilt in a new design that facilitates safer and quicker access to the residents of Santa Lucija, Paola and Tarxien. The project also includes the redesign and reconstruction of a nearby jogging track, the upgrading of the Tal-Barrani Road pedestrian subway to be also accessible to cyclists and to persons with disability, as well as a new cycle track connecting Santa Lucija to Marsa.
The two new two-lane, cut-and-cover tunnels will extend 90 metres beneath the existing roundabout, to connect the two carriageways of Santa Lucija Avenue with Tal-Barrani Road. Two approach ramps, extending over 130 metres each, will link the tunnel to the two roads. The new roundabout above the tunnel will prioritise safer access to Santa Lucija, Paola and Tarxien. It will also be connected to Santa Lucija Avenue and Tal-Barrani Road through four new slip roads.
Works on site started a few days ago with the excavations for the foundations of the new slip roads as well as the reconstruction of the jogging track. The site of the existing jogging track needs to be excavated to build part of a 1.1 km twin walk-through underground culvert, which will extend from Tal-Barrani Road to reach another similar underground tunnel network being built beneath the new flyovers of the Marsa Junction Project. These tunnels will accommodate one of the country’s principal 132kV high voltage electricity network connections, linking the Delimara Power Station with the distribution centre at the site of the former Marsa Power Station.
Besides the new culverts for the replacement and reinforcement of these high voltage cables, along the same route Infrastructure Malta is also replacing a major underground potable water distribution pipeline. It is also laying several kilometres of underground cable ducts for Internet services, traffic management ICT systems and other telecommunication networks. A new rainwater reservoir and 2.7 kilometres of storm water pipes are also included in this project.
The existing Tal-Barrani Road pedestrian underpass (subway) connecting Tarxien and Santa Lucija will be refurbished and upgraded with new ramps, to be accessible to all. At the same time, the underpass will also be directly linked to the new jogging track, so that it can be safely reached by Tarxien residents as well. The new jogging track is being built in consultation with the Santa Lucija Local Council.
The new cycle track, almost a kilometre long, will form part of a longer safe cycle route connecting Luqa, Santa Lucija, Tarxien, Paola and Marsa. The first stretch of this cycle track is currently being developed as part of the reconstruction of Luqa Road, next to Santa Lucija’s Garden of Serenity. Through the Santa Lucija tunnels project, Infrastructure Malta will extend this cycle track down the northbound carriageway of Santa Lucija Avenue, until it reaches Marsa, where other cycling facilities are being developed through the Marsa Junction Project.
Infrastructure Malta is coordinating the implementation of the Santa Lucija tunnels project with several other major road projects in this region. The reconstruction of Luqa Road, which leads to the Santa Lucija roundabout, is now nearing completion. This new road will serve as an important alternative route whilst the tunnels are being built. At the same time, the project works in Santa Lucija Avenue are being planned in conjunction with the construction of the seven flyovers of the Marsa Junction Project, one of which will connect this road to Aldo Moro Road. All works are being implemented in phases, to minimise difficulties to road users, as well as to nearby residents, businesses and other workplaces.
All excavation works are being carried out under the supervision of archaeologists approved by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, to ensure that if any historical remains are unearthed, they are adequately studied and preserved. Infrastructure Malta is also working with the Environmental and Resources Authority to minimise any ecological impacts. Before works started, the agency obtained the necessary nature permits to uproot 295 trees that need to be removed to build the tunnels and the new slip roads. Under the guidance of experienced arborists, another 254 trees are being prepared to be transplanted to other nearby areas, including the new jogging track. The new areas where the trees are being transplanted, mostly in Santa Lucija, were approved by the Authority as well. Along the project route Infrastructure Malta is planting 597 new indigenous trees so that once the project is ready, this area will have 300 more trees than there are now.
As an additional environmental contribution, through this project Infrastructure Malta is also planting another 1,269 trees at the Majjistral Park, Mellieha, at the Maghtab Park, Naxxar, and at Marsascala.
The Santa Lucija Underpass is co-financed by the European Union's Cohesion Fund. Infrastructure Malta is planning to complete this project by the end of next year, along with the Marsa Junction Project.