The tunnel between Malta and Gozo would encourage more young people to establish themselves in Gozo, thus pushing the island’s economy forward, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg said.
Addressing a press conference where he announced new developments and gave information about the Malta-Gozo tunnel project, Dr Borg said that studies indicated that the tunnel will be around 12km long, with a lane going each way, and a third emergency lane. The tunnel is expected to have a capacity of 6,500 vehicles per day in both directions, Dr Borg said.
The minister emphasised that safety and quality are two essential factors, and explained that the tunnel will be built according to European standards. Here, he referred to the Norwegian expert commissioned by Transport Malta, Professor Eivind Grov, who is helping with the concept design, which includes carriageway design, ventilation, illumination systems, signage, safety measures and service passages.
The minister confirmed that a full detailed Environmental Impact Assessment will be carried out, and that either end of the tunnel will be placed in areas where they will have the least negative impact on the environment. He mentioned areas in Nadur for the Gozo side, and the area between Manikata and Imbordin for the Malta side. The terrain will be excavated in a way that creates the least amount of unnecessary disturbance in the area. Comino will not be disturbed as no access to it will be given through the tunnel.
Franco Mercieca, who will be chairing the Steering Committee of this project, said that as a result of a tunnel between the two islands, Gozitans will no longer need to make the difficult choice between career progression and family. Meanwhile, Prof. Grov spoke about his experience in the field, and explained that more than 30 projects of this kind have been carried out in Norway. Thanks to projects such as these, small communities detached from urban land were given new life, he said, describing such projects as ‘social tunneling’, as they were planned to improve the quality of life of smaller populations.