A few years ago, sitting in the car, stuck in jam-packed traffic in Malta, especially in the central part, the feeling was as though we’re in the opening sequences of Fellini’s 8½ (1963) or Schumacher’s Falling Down (1993). It was a frustrating feeling where even a buzz of a fly or a car horn could flip one out.
Today, this feels like a memory, a thing of the past.
The Central Link project has truly given a new breath and new life to the central part of Malta, specifically those living in Attard, Balzan, Mrieħel and Birkirkara. It proves to be another blueprint of how road infrastructure should be done, and a mirror of the government’s vision for a sustainable future. TheJournal.mt team delved into its benefits.
50% less travel time
By redesigning 11 junctions, removing four traffic lights systems and adding 14 kilometres of lanes along a 4.3-kilometre road corridor, the Central Link Project is giving the gift of time, by cutting travelling time by 50%, to 30,000 daily users who use this route. Studies conducted during the planning stage of this project showed that had no action been taken to upgrade these arterial roads, within a few years, travelling from Mrieħel to Ta’ Qali would have taken commuters two hours fifteen minutes, advancing at 1.83 kilometres per hour in gridlock conditions.
Protecting People’s health
Hand in hand with the previous benefit, less traffic means less emissions. Studies conducted claim that the Central Link project will be reducing particulate matter pollution by up to 66% by 2030, even when considering future transport demand. Similarly, nitrogen dioxide emissions will also decrease by 41%. Particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are the two main pollutants linked to road transport emissions, and a major cause of respiratory illnesses. Should the Central Link never been made, particulate matter pollution in nearby localities, including Attard and Balzan, would have increased by 278% by 2030.
Greenery and Sustainability
As the tip of the iceberg, the project has been embellished with a total of 1,160 new indigenous trees and 13,774 shrubs and other plants.
The Central Link introduces the longest cycle lane ever in Malta with a total of 4.3km that spans between Ta’ Qali, Attard, Balzan and Mrieħel. The project includes also the rebuilding of ten kilometres of footpaths, 22 pedestrian crossings and 12 bus lay-bys, encouraging increased use of more sustainable modes of travel in these localities.
This is how infrastructure should be done.