Thanks for the ex­tra help, but the roads are what they are

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

At the end of this first week of school (even though univer­sity and MCAST have not yet be­gun) one may draw the first ten­ta­tive con­clu­sions about the road sit­u­a­tion un­der nor­mal, ev­ery­day pres­sure.

We be­lieve it has been the ex­pe­ri­ence of most Mal­tese that the roads were clogged dur­ing the rush hours when schools are about to be­gin and when they fin­ish.

This time, ex­tra help was laid on around the most dif­fi­cult in­ter­sec­tions and junc­tions and from all re­ports, it seems they helped, well, as much as they could. But it takes more than that to make our roads eas­ier for traf­fic.

It would also seem that peo­ple gen­er­ally heeded the warn­ings and left ear­lier for school and work.

The weather was the usual un­pre­dictable weather for this time of the year and thus there were more cars than usual on the roads.

Hav­ing said all this, is it just our im­pres­sion or is it true that by the end of the week the traf­fic had eased and peo­ple were not find­ing all those snarl-ups they had feared?

At the end of the day, it is just a mat­ter of

Ed­i­tor’s pick

num­bers: the num­ber of cars on the roads. There is no way most of the roads can take that num­ber of ve­hi­cles es­pe­cially when they are all go­ing in the same di­rec­tion. The roads are what they are and no amount of tin­ker­ing with them will ever solve the prob­lem. It is clear that noth­ing short of a com­pre­hen­sive plan can ever hope to change things. This com­pre­hen­sive plan nec­es­sar­ily has to be long-term, i.e. it can­not be done in one leg­is­la­ture. It may also in­clude var­i­ous long-term so­lu­tions such as the one men­tioned re­cently – that of a light train or tram sys­tem. But it can­not stop at these panaceas.

The present works at the Kap­para Junc­tion also re­mind us that road works that aim to change the ba­sic road net­work cost a lot of money and take a lot of time (and dis­rupt nor­mal road us­age).

There are more traf­fic nodes that need this kind of deep surgery and we can­not have just one that takes three of four years af­ter which we tackle the next. Other­wise we will never fin­ish. Now that the Bud­get is com­ing up, the Min­is­ter of Trans­port must ar­gue for ex­pen­di­ture on roads to be in­creased from the present pal­try sum to a more sus­tain­able level. Up till now, ever since we joined the EU we have had sub­stan­tial EU help but the time is com­ing when we must un­der­take spending on roads on our own.

There are some traf­fic nodes that we will have to un­ravel one by one – Msida, the Ceme­tery junc­tion, the many round­abouts that end up trap­ping traf­fic in­stead of fa­cil­i­tat­ing it. Maybe one idea would be to cre­ate un­der­passes in­stead of round­abouts and maybe we need not cre­ate an almighty hole just to do that. Maybe too we can learn from other peo­ple how to do it. Those of us who have been to Brus­sels, for ex­am­ple, can see how cre­at­ing tunnels can ease what used to be very com­pli­cated road junc­tions. But when Mon­day comes and the schools open again we again face the same stress we have faced this week. Maybe we will get used to it and train our­selves to leave ear­lier.

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