A public call for three separate tenders has been issued for maintenance work to be carried out at the Kirkop, Santa Venera, Tal-Qroqq and Ta’ Giorni tunnels, with an estimated cost of investment of €10 million, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Capital Projects Ian Borg said today.
The minister explained that while larger projects and works are taking place, such as the €700 million residential roads investment and work on the bridges of Mosta and the Marsa Bypass, next on the list is the four aforementioned tunnels.
The budget only included three tunnels, so another one has been added to the list. Each includes two unidirectional two-lane tunnels, with a total length of 4.8km of arterial roads being covered.
The focus will be on two categories – security and the visual aspect of the tunnels.
With regard to security, Borg maintained that this was the more important aspect of the work to be done, and although in the study commissioned by Infrastructure Malta it states that the tunnels are structurally sound, they still need some maintenance and other works.
Other areas that are being targeted are the lighting inside the tunnels, escape routes, indications showing the air quality in the tunnel, and cameras.
When it comes to the beautifying portion of the projects, the Minister noted that the inside of the tunnels is stained black from the soot.
Repairs and Upgrades
Architects Robert Zerafa & Kylie Ann Borg Marks gave a more in-depth explanation of the various works that will done on the tunnels that see high traffic volumes of as much as 50,000 cars daily.
A ground-penetrating radar study for the Ta’ Giorni and Santa Venera rock-cut tunnels will be carried out after the cleaning of vertical surfaces by pressure jetting to identify any subsurface areas that might need additional repairs.
They explained that apart from architects, there were electrical and mechanical engineers who worked to see how a new electricity system will be implemented.
The idea is that the new LED lighting system will have a different intensity depending on where you are in the tunnel, and will also be a dual system where there will be lighting on each side of the tunnel and concentrate on both lanes separately.
The new CCTV cameras, fire alarms, air quality sensors, and variable message signs will all be connected to a new control room in each tunnel, and in case of an emergency, the tunnels’ systems can be monitored and operated form these control rooms.
The CCTV cameras and sensors will also be linked to the national Traffic Control Centre for constant monitoring.
Sidewalks, stormwater grates, and the emergency escapes in each tunnel will be upgraded and equipped with fire doors, emergency call stations, emergency exit signage and evacuation marker lights.
Each tunnel will also have fire hydrants and other firefighting equipment.
Other improvements include the application of specialized coatings to the vertical walls of the structures, to improve visibility and facilitate routine cleaning and maintenance. The eight tunnel portals will also be embellished by repairing the existing masonry and introducing new architectural features.
Timeline & Logistics
Infrastructure Malta is planning to start these works on the tunnels later this year, as soon as the required contractors are identified through the ongoing procurement processes.
Most of the works would require the closure of the tunnels and will therefore be carried out at night.
The timeframe for completion is expected to be around 30 weeks.
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